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The Autobiography 
of Frank Tarbeaux 

as told to 
Donald Henderson Clarke 

Author of 
Louis Beretti, Millie, etc. 

Frank Tarbeaux unquestion- 
ably is the most fascinating liv 
ing international adventurer. 
Born in the Territory of Colo- 
rado, he fought Indians before 
his voice changed, killed his 
first man at fourteen, held up 
stage coaches on the Deadwood 
Road, played cards in every 
famous frontier town, raced 
horses over the west and south- 
west, worked famous gyps, 
acted with 'Wild Bill" Hickok 
in ''Scouts of the Prairie" and 
became a figure in the gambling 
world before he began his ad- 
ventures around the world, in 
England, Australia, Africa, 
China, Egypt and India — 
gambling everywhere. 

Frank Tarbeaux numbers 
among his friends famous kilh 
ers, lords and ladies of high 
rank, multi-millionaires, inter- 
national fences, train robbers, 
Jesse and Frank James, cham- 
pion pri^e fighters, noted 
actresses, famous beauties and 
grafters. 

Here is the full, frank, com- 
plete autobiography of this 
ama2;ing personality as he him- 
self told it to Donald Hender- 
son Clarke. 




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TH E LI BR ARY O F 

YORK 

UNIVERSITY 



YORK UNIVERSITY 




3 9007 0367 7450 3 



The Autobiography 

OF 

Frank Tarbeaux 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

OF 

FBANK TAMBEAUX 

05 told to 
DONALD HENDERSON CLARKE 

Author of 

**Louis Beretti" and "In the Reign of Rothstein" 




NEWYORK B MCMXXX 



THE VANGUARD PRESS 



COPYRIGHT, 1930, BY THE VANGUARD PRESS 



MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
BY THE H. WOLFF ESTATE 



To James Henle 



The real inspiration for this 
and many other books, 
a great editor, 
and a rare 
friend. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2014 



https://archive.org/details/autobiographyoffOOtarb 



ACKNOWLEDGMENT 



The jacket and end papers of this book were drawn 
and presented to Frank and me by that grand gentle- 
man, dog-fancier, game-chicken proprietor, horse 
lover, cat hater, big and little game hunter, 
philosopher, bon vivant, great 
artist and helpful friend, 
Edward Vincent Ireland. 



D. H. C. 



FOREWORD 



Frank Tarbeaux unquestionably is the most fasci- 
nating living international adventurer. The first white 
boy born in the then Territory of Colorado, he fought 
Indians before his voice changed, killed his first man 
at fourteen, held up stage coaches on the Deadwood 
Road, played cards in every famous frontier town, 
raced quarter- and half-mile horses over the West and 
Southwest, worked famous gyps, including the Horse 
Gyp, the Foot Race Gyp and the Three-Card Monte 
Gyp, and acted with "Wild Bill" Hickok in "Scouts 
of the Prairie" before he began his adventures around 
the world, which included gambling everywhere, 
riding to hounds in England, polo in Australia, and 
horse racing in South America, Australia, Africa, 
China, Egypt and India. 

He was a guest of the King of Hawaii for six 
months; his friends included authors, such as Sir 
Gilbert Parker, Frank Harris, Oscar Wilde, Haddon 
Chambers and Marie Corelli (with whom he punted 
at Stratford-on-Avon), famous killers, lords and ladies 
of high rank, multimillionaires, international fences, 
train robbers, Jesse and Frank James, champion 



iz 



FOREWORD 



prize-fighters, noted actresses, famous beauties and 
grafters. 

Parker and Harris both wrote books about this 
fascinating character; the former a novel, and the 
latter a novelette. Both dealt only with minor inci- 
dents in an amazing life. 

Tarbeaux was seventy-seven when this book was 
written. Not only does he have every tooth, but there 
has never been a point of decay in one of them. His 
once dark eyes have faded a trifle, but they still 
sparkle eagle-like in a proudly handsome counte- 
nance. 

This amazing man still dresses like a beau, rides 
like a hero, and shoots like a demon. Doctors have 
told him that his physical condition is perfect. 

He was persuaded to agree to this book because so 
much that is erroneous has been written and told 
about his dizzy career, in which he has made and 
tossed away millions. 

Tarbeaux finds most of his pleasure these days 
playing with babies and petting deer in the parks. 

"I've been a great, big lover all my life!" he says. 
"And I still am." 

He's the best real hero for a thrilling book that I 
ever knew or heard of. 

Donald Henderson Clarke 



Contents 



Foreword 
I 

First White Boy Born in Colorado — Opens Chisholm Trail 
— Playmate of Indians — Kills First 
Man at Fourteen 

— 3 — 

II 

Buckskin and the Cats — And I Ride 
to the Pacific Coast 

— 23 — 

III 

Kidding Tenderfeet and Immigrants 
— Sniping 

— 34 — 

IV 

On Horseback Throughout the Coast — One-Quarter- and 
One-Half-Mile Racing— 'Wild Biir Hickok 
on Gun Fighting — A Deal in 
Florida Real Estate 

— 45^ 

V 

With Custer at the Little Big Horn — Holding 
up Stage Coaches — Wild Days 
in the West 

— 66 — 



CONTENTS 



VI 

The Three-Card Monte Gyp, in which 
1 am "Bud Alexander From 
Kaintucky" 

— 81 — 

VII 

The Foot-Race Gyp 

— 94 — 

VIII 

The Horse Gyp and Other Pranks 
— Outwitting the Hardest Man 
in Kansas City 

— 103 — 

IX 

With the Coo per- Jackson Wagon Show — 
Taming a Bully 

— 123 — 

X 

Madame Mustache — Gambling for Real 
Money — A Knife Fight 
— 133 — 

XI 

Guest of the King of Hawaii — High Life 
in the South Seas — A Bit 
of Romance 

— 142 — 

XII 

Australia — Second for the Melbourne Cup — "Pasha** 
and the Queer Win — The Sheffield 
Handicap Gyp 

— 156 — 



CONTENTS 



XIII 

Egypt and Frank Harris — London — Sammy 
Lewis, the Money Lender 

— 173 — 

XIV 

Selling Reconstructed Rubies — the 
Khedive of Egypt 

— 197 — 

XV 

The Cutlas Case — Oscar Wilde — Kidnapped from the 
Transvaal — Prison 

— 205 — 

XVI 

Looking for Revenge — The 
Princess X 

— 250 — 

XVII 

Pittsburgh — Conning Oneself out of Jail 

— 256 — 

XVIII 

Madame Jesus — Odds and Ends of an 
Active Life 

— 263 — 

XIX 
Boulder City 

— 285 — 



The Autobiography 

OF 

Frank Tarbeaux 



CHAPTER I 



FIRST WHITE BOY BORN IN COLORADO OPENS CHIS- 

HOLM TRAIL PLAYMATE OF INDIANS 

KILLS FIRST MAN AT FOURTEEN 

Many persons believe I am dead, and I guess not 
a few of them hope I am. 

I haven't used the name Tarbeaux since the famous 
Cutlas Case in London in 1894. I don't mind using 
it in writing this book because none except a few old 
and close friends know me by my right name, and none 
of them call me by it. 

On my travels in different countries during the last 
fifty years scores of acquaintances have suggested 
that I write a book about myself. But I always felt 
that it was not only a rather conceited thing to do, but 
also that it was out of my line. 

However, Sir Gilbert Parker, whom I met at various 
times in different parts of the world, wrote a book 
about me Vi^hich he called "Tarboe, The Story of a 
Life," and Frank Harris, whom I have known for a 
half-century, wrote a novelette about me, which he 
called "A Gambler's Luck." 

They proved that writing men thought I was worth 

3 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Writing about, but that wouldn't have persuaded me 
to do this book if I had been satisfied with what they 
wrote. As a matter of fact, estimable chaps as they 
are, I felt that they hadn't done very well by me, 
first because neither knew more than part of my story 
and, furthermore, because both of them insisted on 
calling me part Indian. A man's a vain animal, isn't 
he? Perhaps it was that part Indian business that 
balanced the scales in favor of my writing the 
story of my life, despite certain prejudices I have 
against it. 

I find myself now, at the age of seventy-seven, 
rather stripped of friends. The early ones, which 
included General Custer, "Wild Bill" Hickok, the 
James boys, and many other men famous in frontier 
days, long have been dead. And the later ones, which 
included Oscar Wilde, King Kalakahua, of Honolulu, 
Barney Barnato, Marie Corelli, and others equally 
notable, mostly all are dead, too. Even the latest 
ones are going fast. I feel I can't hurt the feelings 
of any one living anyhow by this venture into book 
Writing. 

They tell me that the public will want to know about 
the fights I've had, and the men I've killed. That 
sort of thing seems like boasting to me, but I'm going 
to try and do it the best I can. 

I wouldn't shoot anything now — except a man. I 

4 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



wouldn't harm an animal nor a bird for anything in 
the world. I want to pet them, not hurt them. 

I suppose I'll have to tell about a few of the gyp 
games too, and I must say they make me laugh when 
I think of them. But what I like most myself is 
recollections of riding to hounds in England, of 
racing horses in most of the countries of the world, 
of playing polo in Australia, and of those wild days 
on the old Western frontier, which was the wildest and 
most desperate place that ever was in this world. And 
don't let any one ever persuade you to the contrary. 

I ought to know something about it. I was, by 
several years, the first white boy born in what was then 
the Territory, and is now the State, of Colorado. My 
mother had thought for ten years that she was through 
having children, but I always have had a way of 
accomplishing the seemingly impossible. 

My father, Herbert Tarbeaux, was born at Oswego, 
New York, of Huguenot descent. My mother was 
Mary Schofield, and she was born near Utica, New 
York. Her mother's name was Mary Van Pelt, and 
both her father and mother were of Holland, or 
Knickerbocker, stock. Her father was the Reverend 
John Schofield, who was a Chaplain in the army 
during the Civil War. His son, John, at one time was 
Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army. She 
had four brothers, all West Point men. They were 

5 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Major General John, Captain Wheeler, Captain Frank, 
and another one who was a Lieutenant, whose name I 
can't remember. 

They all were in the Civil War, and both on my 
father's side, and on my mother's side, all of our 
people fought in all of the wars until the World War, 
and then there was none left. I was just old enough 
to escape the draft. 

My father and mother were married in Penn Yan, 
New York, about one hundred years ago. They went 
West in a covered wagon, wintering in Cleveland. 
Father was a horse trader and dealer in real estate. He 
was a shrewd trader all his life, and when he died at 
the age of ninety-five he was worth $3,000,000, of 
which he left me $5. But, astute as he was, he couldn't 
see any percentage in the deal for him when he was 
offered one hundred acres in what is now the Loop in 
Chicago for a pair of horses. 

My father finally made a permanent home about 
one hundred miles west of Chicago in Freeport, 
Illinois. He accumulated money, and became one of 
the biggest taxpayers in the County, but he had the 
wandering fever. And, in 1851, he drove into the 
Territory of Colorado. 

On the spot where Boulder City now stands he 
established a ranch of sorts. There was a sawmill, a 
general store, and a blacksmith's shop. It was twenty- 

6 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



five miles from Denver, which then was just a few 
tents and adobe houses. I was born there, August 24, 
1852. 

When I was about seven years old, I first went 
with father to Chicago. We drove in a light spring 
or Democrat wagon, and bought Schutter wagons, 
which would stand the desert going, and seventy-five 
or a hundred horses and mules. At first, we traded 
with Potter Palmer's. Later it was Leiter, Palmer and 
Field. Then it was Leiter and Company. Now it is 
Marshall Field. 

We backed up the wagons at Potter Palmer's store 
and loaded them with all sorts of merchandise. Then, 
with ten four-horse or four-mule wagons, manned by 
Illinois boys who were only too glad of an oppor- 
tunity to see Pike's Peak, we drove to Savannah, 
Illinois, on the Mississippi, crossed on a horse ferry 
to Sabula, Iowa, traversed Iowa on a line now taken 
by the Chicago, Northwestern Railway, to Council 
Bluffs, ferried across the Missouri River to Omaha, 
followed the line later taken by the Union Pacific to 
North Platte, Nebraska, and up the South Platte River 
to Denver. 

Most of the goods were sold in Denver, along with 
the horses, mules, wagons and harness. But two 
wagon-loads were kept for the general store. 

It took six or seven weeks to make the trip from 

7 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Chicago to Denver in the spring. Father drove back 
to Freeport, Hlinois, late in the fall in one of the light 
wagons, and he carried all of his wealth with him in 
order to buy the goods for the return trip in the spring. 

Beginning usually two or three hundred miles west 
of Omaha, there were Indian fights on those freighting 
trips, and many Indians and white men were killed. 
But father knew Indian fighting, and always at night, 
then and afterwards, the wagons were overlapped in 
a circle at night. 

The men inside could slip in and out between the 
wagons, but they presented a solid, fortlike front to 
hostile attack. The horses were banded together close 
by so that they could be led into the wagon enclosure 
easily in a case of need. The Indians never fought 
at night. We always were on the march before day- 
light, and always had sentries by night. 

In 1860 I spent about two months on the road — 
which wasn't a road at all — between Chicago and 
Denver, and the other ten months on the ranch, and 
was tutored by mother. 

When I was nine years old or so, I had become 
acquainted with army officers on frontier duty in 
Colorado and Wyoming. My uncle. Captain Wheeler 
Schofield, was in charge of a tent garrison, and I went 
with him on many military expeditions into the un- 
charted northern country. 

8 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



I guess I was a wild sort of lad. I dressed in animal 
skins, and carried from childhood, revolver, rifle, 
knife and rope. They were the only toys I knew. I 
could shoot straight about as soon as I could eat 
solid food, and about the only solid food I knew for 
long stretches at a time was meat. When I wasn't taken 
for an Indian, I was taken for a half-Indian at least. 

To this day I know nothing at all about baseball. 
I never saw baseball until I was grown. I played at 
war and horseback riding, and wrestling and shooting 
with the Indians and half-breeds. I could shoot an 
arrow from a bow as far back as I can remember. But I 
never heard of marbles or tops, or other toys and 
games like that when I was a boy. 

And since I played only with Indians and half- 
breeds, I naturally could speak the Indian language 
as well as an Indian. There were only three or four 
hundred words in the Sioux, and meanings were 
amplified with appropriate gestures. I knew the words 
and gestures. 

Our nearest neighbor was a Spanish, or Mexican, 
Don, Mariana Modena, who lived about forty or fifty 
miles from us to the North. He had a big place with 
six or eight squaws for wives. 

Don Modena used to drive over to our general 
store for supplies every so often. He was the only 
man in that country who wore a boiled shirt, and he 

9 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



was a great swell. He always dressed in blue, with 
slashed trousers showing a dash of red at the sides on 
the bottom. A fancy red cummerband held up the 
trousers. 

His squaws made me the most beautiful deerskin 
clothing. And I'll never forget the deerskin leggings 
they made for me. They wound around my legs and 
left a pretty fringe of which I was mighty proud. 

I was something of a dude myself, and never rode, 
if I could help it, without an eagle feather in my 
hair — which I wore long, of course — and another 
eagle feather in my pony's mane. 

One incident in connection with Modena did not 
make much of an impression on me at the time, but 
in later years it struck me as rather characteristic. 
The Don always had pressed my three sisters and 
me to visit him at his hacienda. Finally, he invited 
us for a particular occasion — to enjoy a trout chowder 
with him and his menage. So my sisters and I rode 
over there. 

When we arrived, an army of little half-breeds 
rushed out to greet us. My sisters looked at them, 
and one of them said: 

"Don Modena, how many children have you?" 

And the Don said : 

"I don't know, Senoritas ; I travel so much." 

My sisters giggled and blushed and looked at each 

10 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



other in a way that I thought was peculiar at the 
time, but it was years afterwards, when something 
brought the incident to mind, that I understood why. 
And then I too laughed. 

I was very useful to the officers, because I knew 
the country so well and was accepted by the Indians 
as one of themselves. My father didn't want me to 
go with the commands. I was the only son and he 
needed me at home with the cattle and horses. 

But I liked the life of the officers who drank and 
played cards, and I liked the officers' wives who had 
a pretty hard life of it in the tents out on the plains, 
and I liked the good food from the Commissary which 
wasn't all beef and beans, and I formed habits then 
that had a powerful influence on my life. 

In the winter of 1862, when I was ten years old, 
I went with a fur-trading expedition into the North. 
We were gone four months, and suffered great hard- 
ships. There were several bitter fights with Indians, 
and several men with the expedition were killed. But 
it was the only life I knew. And I loved it. 

My father and I opened the Chisholm Trail in 1863. 
We rode down to Texas on horseback, and bought 
ten thousand yearlings, some for as little as fifty cents 
a head, and five thousand two-year-olds, some for one 
dollar a head. 

We hired cowboys in Texas to make the drive back 

11 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



North, and numbered among them were the despera- 
does of the world, outcasts of every country, represent- 
ing every degree of society, gentlemen of title and 
bums. You didn't ask a man his name in those days. 
He'd've killed you if you did. They were just Jack, 
or Bill, or Texas Charlie, or Wild Pete, or something 
like that. 

I sat around those camp fires, and got the itch for 
traveling. Usually there was nothing to read. If 
there was a magazine, it was black and worn from 
use and likely to be a year old. And there was no 
light except from the camp fire. There was just the 
talk around it while the wolves howled out on the 
prairie. 

And the talk was all about desperate adventures 
in other countries. The story-tellers held out on why 
they were there on the frontier, but they told some 
hair-raisers, which is how I became a soldier of for- 
tune. 

I became a fiend on geography. All I cared 
about when I got the chance, was studying about 
foreign places. The truth is I wanted to be a pirate, 
but when, after mother died, I got my chance to shake 
loose, the piracy racket was done with except for a 
little piker pirating down on the Riff coast. 

Until 1865 we were on the Trail in the summer, 
and I spent the winters in Colorado, Wyoming and 

12 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



northern Nebraska. It took about two weeks to ride 
from our big ranch on the Big Thompson, north of 
Boulder, and between Boulder and where Cheyenne 
now is, down to the Rio Grande, and from six to eight 
weeks to drive the cattle back. We drove the cattle 
only a few miles a day, just far enough to get from 
one creek or water-hole to the next. 

The cattle were divided into bands, about five thou- 
sand in each band with a mess, or cook, wagon, and 
ten to fifteen cowboys. The bands were about a day's 
drive apart, and father and I rode from one band to 
the other, sleeping with whichever we happened to be 
at nightfall. 

If today I found myself in a company like that, 
with what I know now, I would grab a horse and ride 
until I got somewhere else. But in those days I was 
in that society and knew no other. 

It's different to catch the flavor of those wild, 
far-off days in this era of tiled bathrooms, airplanes 
and concrete highways. In the first place, the steers 
we were driving weren't the plump, genial, white- 
faced, kindly beasts that now furnish stews and shoes 
for the world. They were Texas longhorns, as wild 
as hungry wolves, or the men on horseback who 
herded them. 

They were all hide and sinew, with killing instincts, 
and would kill a man on foot in a twinkling. But 

13 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



neither they, nor the buffalo, then migrating in their 
uncounted millions, ever bothered a mounted man. 

There were no electric cooking appliances, or little 
alcohol stoves. The fires were made from Buffalo 
chips, just as on the Sahara Desert now the fires are 
made from camel droppings. One of the first tasks 
at night was to fill a couple of gunny sacks with buffalo 
chips. The dry air made the chips dry and odorless, 
and they burned pleasantly somewhat after the fashion 
of charcoal. 

Water was a problem. Many times I skimmed the 
animal droppings and other filthy scum from the sur- 
face of buffalo wallows, and strained the mucky fluid 
through my pocket handkerchief for drinking water. 

Indians and stampedes were, perhaps, the biggest 
dangers. One of the violent electrical storms of the 
desert country was likely to send the whole outfit of 
longhorns racing in maniacal frenzy across the plains. 
The cowboys had to ride like demons to head them off. 
It was nothing in a stampede for us to stay in our 
saddles all night and all day riding hell-for-leather. 
We did that by changing from one grass-fed mustang 
or broncho to another during the ride. 

Fights with Indians were a part of the routine. 
Plenty of white men lost their lives, and plenty of 
Indians lost theirs. 

The riding, and the open air up there in the high 

14 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



hills kept us fit despite our terrible diet of beans and 
fried meat. We all suffered agonies from consti- 
pation, but we thought that was just a part of living. 

But don't think our food was so unpalatable. There 
was an over-abundance of game. We had all the 
antelope steaks and other wild meat that we wanted. 
Beans were the only vegetables. 

It was a country in which wolves were as thick as 
sparrows on Main Street; where buffalo moved in 
masses which stretched from horizon to horizon ; where 
Indians armed for war and, desperate over the inroads 
by the white men into their fatherland, rode looking 
for fame on earth from scalps and a gorgeous time 
in the Happy Hunting Ground if they were fortunate 
enough to get killed; where all varieties of deer and 
other game provided walking steaks or chops for the 
frontiersmen, and where hot lead was the last word in 
an argument. 

Life was cheap in those days. It's hard to realize 
just how cheaply it was held. The only entertainment 
on the trail was provided by saloon dance halls, which 
usually were located somewhere near military garri- 
sons. 

These places, many of them, were something like 
the side show tents of a circus. There was a bar at 
one end, and a dancing floor, with gambling tables 

15 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



around the edges. Light was furnished by swinging 
coal-oil lamps. 

The girls in those places were tough babies. They 
were more like men than women, and had skins like 
alligators. They had to be tough to get there in the 
first place, and to survive, in the second. They rode 
astride like men, and they swore like men, and drank 
and smoked and chewed like men. 

There was a master of ceremonies who called the 
dances. He would yell: 

"Balance the first four forward — • 
"Swing on the corners— 
"And balance to the bar." 

There was no profit in the dancing, but the drinks 
were two dollars a shot. And if you think this stuff 
that passes for whiskey under Prohibition is poison, 
you should have sampled that frontier firewater. 
There was time to take only a couple of steps when 
it was balance to the bar, and liquor up. 

And it wouldn't have taken many of those drinks 
to turn a rabbit into a lion. 

When we would go into camp, the cowboys would 
know that there was one of these saloon dance halls 
maybe one hundred miles north of the trail and fifty 
miles ahead. Four or five of them would ask my 
father if they couldn't take fifteen or twenty horses 

16 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



to ride to the dance hall for a good time, to rejoin 
the outfit perhaps fifty or one hundred miles farther 
along. Father would say: 

"All right. But if any one of you boys survives, 
I want him to promise to bring back the horses." 

Sometimes three or four out of five or six men 
would be killed on one of those parties. Once or 
twice all of them were killed, and then father lost 
the horses. The cowboys and the soldiers were like 
bulldogs and cats. They were poison for each other. 
And it was a rare night when they didn't have a run- 
in with guns. 

The odds were all in favor of the cowboys. The 
soldiers were nothing but city boys, mostly immi- 
grants who could scarcely speak English, who didn't 
know anything about firearms except what they had 
been taught in the army, and the cowboys were all 
gun fighters. The cowboys filed down their triggers 
until they hung on a hair, or until they wouldn't stay 
cocked at all, just being discharged by pulling back 
the hammer and letting go. The soldiers' guns were 
hard on the pull, a necessary army regulation to pre- 
vent the poor greenhorns from shooting each other by 
mistake. Lots of soldiers were killed. 

I've been in one of those tent saloons many times 
when suddenly, "bing! bang!," revolvers would pop, 
and the lights would go out. At the first "bing!" we 

17 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



all dived right over on the floor on our faces. After 
a minute or two, when the hinging and banging was 
over, we would get up again. 

We couldn't smell the sweat and tobacco smoke and 
cheap perfume and rotten booze any more. The air was 
full of that acrid black-powder smoke, and it made it 
hard to breathe. When the lights were lit again there'd 
be two or three or four dead bodies on the floor. 

Whoever was nearest the bodies would just shove 
'em off the floor out under the sides of the tent, and 
the piano or the fiddle would start again, and the 
Master of Ceremonies would begin to call his danc- 
ing and drinking directions again. 

I always liked to see Bill Hart in the movies. His 
Western pictures weren't exaggerated a bit. Of 
course, they don't have the old long-horned Texas 
cattle in any of the films, but the home-loving, white- 
faced kind instead. But there aren't any more of 
those longhorns. 

There is only one instance I can remember when 
I laughed at Bill Hart, and that was in a picture where 
he was acting the character of my old pal, "Wild 
Bill" Hickok. As "Wild Bill," Bill Hart appeared in 
a scene with everybody shooting at him from different 
hiding places, and he opened a traveling bag such as 
you or I might use today, and took out a whole col- 
lection of revolvers. 



18 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



I had to laugh at that, because it was so impossible 
in the first place, and because in the second place, 
"Wild Bill" never had a bag like that — ^not even 
when he and I were co-stars in Ned Buntline's melo- 
drama, "Scouts of the Prairie." 

I have been asked how different shootings and kill- 
ings in which I was a party, or in which I was in- 
terested, began. I'd like to say right here that I 
can't remember what the reasons were. Chances are 
we didn't know at the time. 

To make a general observation, which holds good 
for all our doings out there in the Wild West, I would 
say we were all more or less crazy. It was part of 
the understanding that a man couldn't be insulted, 
and you'd be surprised at what he considered insults. 

There wasn't any law except guns unless a man shot 
some one in the back or got caught stealing horses. 
Then he'd get himself hanged. But that country was 
wild. A man or two was killed, and what could be 
done about it? Nothing. Two or three soldiers were 
killed, and the army had to charge it up to profit and 
loss. The killers had ridden away into the country, 
and their names probably weren't known anyhow, and 
if they were, no one would tell them. It was the 
wildest and roughest place in history. 

I've been all over the world — in Africa, South 
America, Egypt, China, Borneo, on all the Continents 

19 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



and the islands in between — and I've seen some hectic 
times, but nothing to hold a candle to those days of 
the real Wild West. 

These gunmen of today are nothing but pitiful, 
cowardly murderers. We weren't anything like that 
in the West. A stranger, and there were plenty of 
them, was protected. He was as safe with us as he 
was at home. 

Turn a man like "Wild Bill" Hickok loose among a 
hundred of the sneaking, bootlegging, cheap little mur- 
derers of the present day, and you'd have a hundred 
corpses. Fd like to have a little of that sort of hunt- 
ing myself. 

Of course, "Wild Bill" was the fastest man with a 
gun in the West. He was electricity, but there were 
others, including myself, who weren't so slow. But 
I must get back to my main story, which I've left 
for a moment, and which I'm likely to leave for other 
moments during this tale. It's difficult to stick to a 
chronology. 

In 1864, the Government commandeered about five 
hundred of our horses to use in the Civil War. A 
settlement was not forthcoming until eighteen years 
later. 

About 1865, our last year on the Chisholm Trail, 
father built a second ranch on the Chug Water in 
Wyoming, north of where Cheyenne now stands. We 

20 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



went East and bought some yearling bulls to cross 
with the long-horn Texas cattle, and some fine stal- 
lions to cross with the mustangs or bronchos. We 
were the first people in the West to do it. 

The next year, while I was still on the ranch on 
the Chug Water, I killed my first man. His name was 
Hank Newhine, and he was a killer. He came back 
from a drunk in an ugly mood, and had some words 
with father out in the corral. 

I knew his reputation, but in those days I wasn't 
afraid of anything living. And when I heard him 
swearing at father, I stepped up to him, and told him 
to shut up and get back to the bunk-house. He faded 
for his gun, and I got to mine first. I was pretty fast 
with a gun even in that country where lots of times 
speed with a gun meant whether you lived or you 
didn't. Hank died, and the only feeling I had about 
it was that it was a good thing. Everybody patted me 
on the back and told me I was a good boy. And as 
I look back at it I think I was. 

When I hear of a man killing bears for instance, I 
think he has been murdering animals that are a lot 
nobler than himself. I figure it's all right for society 
ladies to go out and murder a few lions or elephants, 
because it's the style now-a-days, and ladies don't 
care if they have to kill beings finer than themselves 
as long as they can be fashionable. 

21 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



But with men it is different, somehow. I can't 
seem to feel any regrets over any of the men I have 
killed. It was always in fair fight, and if I hadn't 
killed them they would have killed me. And there 
you are. 

I was fourteen when I had the run-in with Hank 
Newhine. A boy gets to be a man mighty fast in a 
country like that. I was a man when I was ten or 
eleven, so far as taking responsibility was concerned. 
I was big, and strong, and tough. I was used to riding 
with men, and hunting with men. A boy on horseback 
is as good with cattle as a man. 

Father knew I could be trusted, and sent me East 
to buy bulls and stallions without a minute's hesita- 
tion. He'd send me out with ten thousand head of 
cattle and ten or fifteen cowboys without thinking 
twice about it. 

And I might mention right now that I never earned 
a dollar at a job in my life. I never worked for hire. 
Somehow I never could see myself doing that. It's 
all right, but it wasn't in me. I worked for father 
until I left him, but I never was paid for it. It was 
just part of the life. I suppose lots of men around the 
world are sorry I got my money the way I did instead 
of working for it. I always had the feeling I was a 
Boss, and didn't have to work. 



22 



CHAPTER II 



BUCKSKIN AND THE CATS AND I RIDE TO THE 

PACIFIC COAST 

That ranch on the Chug Water was a very interest- 
ing place. It had been made by digging a sort of 
cave into one of the high banks of the creek, where 
beavers had built a dam and made a little lake. In 
the hollowed-out space was a long room, with two rows 
of bunks, three in a tier, and a fireplace. In back 
of that was another cave which could hold four horses 
comfortably. 

The wall of the ranch towards the water was a 
strip of canvas which rolled up on a pole. This can- 
vas was stained until it looked exactly like the river 
bank. The smoke from the fireplace went through a 
low chimney that was hidden among rocks, carefully 
placed to look natural. And if there were Indians in 
the neighborhood we made certain that there wasn't 
much smoke. 

No one who wasn't in the secret ever could have 
found that ranch except by the rankest accident. And 
yet we could live there as snug as you please. And 

23 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



when we wanted water, all we had to do was draw 
aside the tarpaulin and dip a bucket in the creek. 
That was the handiest and prettiest hide-out I ever 
knew. We didn't have to worry about Indians there. 

On this ranch on the Chug Water, which must not 
be confused with our main ranch at Boulder, I had 
two cowboys with me during the winter of 1866. One 
was Dune Kerr, and the other we knew only as Buck- 
skin. 

Buckskin had ridden over to our nearest neighbor, 
seventy-five miles away maybe, and had come back 
with two kittens in his shirt. He wanted them for pets. 

He fed them plenty of meat, and they had more 
milk than they could drink, because we had milking 
cows on that ranch, and they got as fat as butter, and 
you would know from the way Buckskin played with 
them all the time that they were his prize possessions. 

One night Buckskin and Dune had an argument 
about something. I've forgotten what it was — prob- 
ably something unimportant. Anyhow, it ended up 
by Dune drilling Buckskin — ^killing him. Dune said: 

"Well, Frank, I don't like to leave you here alone 
with this stiff, but I guess I'd better be riding South. 
I'll stop at the railroad and tell the telegraph operator 
that there is a corpse at Tarbeaux's ranch, so they'll 
come and get him." 

It was the custom to ride down into Texas if any- 

24 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



thing like that happened. The coroner was a hundred 
and seventy-five miles away, and Dune would have 
plenty of time. 

He helped me wrap a blanket around Buckskin and 
lay him out in his bunk, and then he rode away. Well, 
I was pretty hardened, but I was only fourteen and 
I didn't enjoy myself that night, alone there with poor 
Buckskin. It was a cold night and the wolves were 
howling their heads off out on the high ground. 

Finally, I got to sleep. I didn't know what time 
it was that a noise awakened me. I had kept the 
fire blazing in the fireplace, and it still was going 
enough for me to see that those two pet kittens had 
pulled the blankets off Buckskin. They already had 
eaten around his nose and ears. 

Out came Old Betsey and I popped off both those 
cats before you could wink an eye. And I took their 
fat little bodies and threw them as far as I could into 
the Chug Water. 

I've told that story on ocean liners and on the 
South African veldt, and on Dhabbias on the Nile. 
It made a great impression on me, and it was a good 
explanation of why I never have had any use for cats 
since then. Finally, a well-informed man to whom I 
told the story, said: 

"Why, didn't you know it is because of cats that 
people have the custom everywhere of sitting up with 

25 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



the dead? If a body were laid out in a butcher's shop, 
a cat would get to it, if it had to go down through the 
chimney." 

Those cats of Buckskin's were hand-raised. They 
always had more food than they could eat. And as 
soon as he was dead they started to eat him. No cats 
for me. A dog is the only intelligent domestic ani- 
mal. A camel is the dumbest, the cow is second, and 
the horse third. A dog will starve himself to death 
beside the.body of his master. A horse won't trample 
a dead body. 

But 1 guess this is not such a happy subject, al- 
though it concerns an incident in a life full of adven- 
ture that sticks out in my memory like a sore thumb. 

Every year I became more and more sought after 
by the officers. I still lived on the ranches, with the 
home ranch and general store at Boulder. I made 
several trips this year with commands into the North 
and Northwest, through the Jackson Hole Country in 
Wyoming, and the Yellowstone Country, which then 
was unexplored. 

I think that it was in this year that the Union Paci- 
fic Railroad came into Wyoming. During the build- 
ing of the U. P. my father had more than two hundred 
horses and mules contracted to do grading. It was 
rough and wild all along the road, but it was particu- 
larly bad at Julesburg and Cheyenne. 

26 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



Julesburg was where Jack Slade killed Jules, the 
French trader, after whom the town was named. 
Slade cut off his victim's ears and went around tossing 
them upon bars in saloons as joking payment for his 
drinks. 

Slade came from a good family in Buffalo, New 
York, and I always understood his family were of the 
Wells Fargo people. He was the Wells Fargo agent 
at Julesburg. After he shot Jules he became a killer, 
and wound up with a murder in Montana for which 
the Vigilantes hanged him. I knew Slade and Jules. 

Slade was like a good many other Eastern men 
who came out to the West. They were mild enough 
when they arrived, but there was no holding them 
after they got a taste and found there was no law. They 
mistook the general freedom for license. And many 
of them were hanged. It was nothing to wake up in 
the morning and see anywhere from one to a half- 
dozen bodies hanging around town. That was a sign 
the Vigilantes had been on the job during the night. 

About the year 1868, I went with Captain Mix, 
Company A, Second Cavalry. The first lieutenant 
was Norwood, and the second lieutenant was Thomp- 
son. That was a company of about one hundred men, 
a sort of free-lance company, a fighting lot. 

Mix was not a West Point man, but had come up 
from the ranks during the Civil War. He was an 

27 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Indian fighter, like Custer, and lie didn't like the 
dude West Pointers. I have seen him get down from 
his horse and fight with his men, rough and tumble. 
No guard house with him. In fact, we had none. 
We just traveled in wagons with tents, and had no 
garrison. 

It was a rough bunch, but I liked it. In fact, I 
didn't know any better, and took it all for granted. 
We played cards most nights by the camp fire. We 
had plenty of Indian fighting, because this Captain 
Mix, like Custer, really was an Indian fighter, and 
always was looking for trouble. 

We just met up with the Indians and fought. They 
shot at us, and we shot at them. I had a horse shot 
from under me, and was wounded in the left leg. 
Plenty of bullets went by me. 

I would like to say something right here about those 
Plains Indians, the Sioux and the Pawnees. They 
were the grandest specimens of manhood that ever 
existed in this world. 

When I talk about Indians in this book I'm not talk- 
ing about the tired-looking, bedraggled specimens of 
manhood that travelers by train across the Continent 
see propped up against the sides of tank stations. 
Those aren't Indians. They are just victims of white 
men's selfishness and depravity. 

What I am talking about are the Indians before 

28 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



they were contaminated by the white man and his 
civilization, when they were all over six feet, and 
without a blemish, except perhaps a scar here and 
there from fighting and hunting. 

There never was a more moral people than those 
Plains people. If a girl among them let herself be 
persuaded by a young man, her nipples were cut off, 
and she was given a teepee in which to live in a spot 
isolated from the tribe. Men could visit her there 
if they cared to. But if she had children they died, 
because there were no milk bottles on the plains. 

The Indians I talk about lived on nothing but meat. 
They had no vegetables at all. And they spent their 
lives from childhood in exercising, horseback riding, 
and preparing for the hunt and for war. 

Few men now living, I think, have seen, as I have, 
from ten to fifteen thousand of these magnificent 
human beings, every one an athlete, mounted on 
splendid horses, and armed for war. I can tell you 
that was one of the great and stirring sights of my 
life. And it never will be seen again. That history 
has been written. 

Anyone who talks now-a-days about one white man 
having been able to whip a half-dozen Indians doesn't 
know what he is talking about. He's just dumb. It 
was the other way around. One Indian probably was 
able to lick a half-dozen white men. 



29 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



The only way the Indian was beaten was by being 
outnumbered and by being lied to and cheated on 
every occasion. The Indians weren't only fighters; 
they knew the country, and they knew tactics. 

Try to imagine how you would feel if four or five 
hundred of those wonderful redmen were charging 
down on you on horseback, each one of them armed 
with a repeating rifle and a revolver. You wouldn't 
like it very much, would you? Neither did any one 
else. 

We used to hold them off from behind our wagons 
when I was a boy, and later, when I was with the 
troops, we beat them when we had them outnumbered. 
I never was among those present when a smaller num- 
ber of white men beat a similar number of Indians — 
if the Indians were equally well armed. 

It was on an expedition with Captain Mix and his 
company up around the Yellowstone that we ran into 
a party of Minnecosian Sioux, or at least the name 
sounded like that. They had come down from Canada. 
I had a pow-wow with them, and it turned out that 
I was the first white man with whom they ever had 
spoken. But so far as that is concerned, no other 
white man could have talked with them, because 
there weren't any white men in their country who 
could talk Sioux. There were some half-breeds, but 
that is all. 



30 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



I spent a good deal of time with the Indians, as I've 
said, and knew them pretty well. I suppose old 
Spotted Tail might be said to have been my first 
father-in-law. He was a splendid figure of a man, 
as were all the rest of the Indians I knew — Red Cloud 
and the others. 

A young fellow didn't have any chance of getting 
fresh with any of the pretty Indian girls. And they 
were pretty, too! They hadn't been spoiled by white 
men, and when they were young they were plump as 
partridges, and sweet with the flavor of wild, un- 
touched flowers. I have slept in plenty of teepees, but 
I never unrolled an Indian girl out of her blankets, 
although I may have tried. I have known many 
beautiful women — some of them the most noted inter- 
national beauties of their time — ^but I never knew any 
girls more lovely than the Indian maids in their native 
state. 

An Indian teepee, I might mention, is one of the 
most comfortable dwellings imaginable. It is per- 
fect for the uses for which it is intended. When the 
squaw puts up a teepee she rolls the skins around so 
that a protective flap is left at one side of the vent at 
the top. She always moves this flap so that it is 
towards the wind. This allows the smoke from the 
fire in the center of the teepee to escape freely and 
not be blown back inside. 

31 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



When a teepee is put up on sloping ground, and 
well banked at the sides, and the fire is going, no 
cabin can touch it for comfort. I've slept in the circle 
around the walls of a teepee many times. And I never 
slept more comfortably. 

Eighteen hundred and sixty-nine was the year that 
the Union Pacific was finished. It was the same year 
that the boom came to Nevada, and it was during that 
period that I met Mark Twain and Bret Harte. Bret 
Harte's stories always have been favorites with me. 
That man wrote of the West as he saw it. He wrote 
about real people. Harte and Twain were young 
newspaper men, and were out there getting articles for 
their newspapers. 

They were just nice young fellows, and they didn't 
impress me much one way or another, any more than 
Gilbert Parker impressed me when I first met him as a 
young reporter on a steamship I boarded at Honolulu. 

I remember Lucky Baldwin a great deal better. I 
met Baldwin at the same time, and we became good 
friends there and in California afterwards. He was 
a great gambler and racing man, which just suited 
my tastes. He was a multimillionaire, and owned 
the Baldwin Hotel in 'Frisco, at that time the city's 
leading hostelry. 

That year I had the itch to see the Pacific coast, and 
on horseback I gradually edged over that way. I 

32 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



went through Salt Lake and the Dutchman's Flat Min- 
ing Camps and White Pine and Cottonwood Canyon 
and then into 'Frisco, where I got my first taste of 
gay city life. 

Big hotels, fine French restaurants, good racing, 
all kinds of gambling, and women — Oh God! I re- 
mained a long time and returned often. 



33 



CHAPTER III 



KIDDING TENDERFEET AND IMMIGRANTS SNIPING 

I take it for granted that it is understood I played 
cards constantly, and won. I didn't like the way in 
which Parker and Frank Harris said I won at cards. 
Both described my ability to manipulate a deck, or 
read cards as they were dealt. 

As a matter of fact, when I was fifteen years old 
I was a pretty good card player. My wife doesn't 
believe it now when I tell her that it was a rare man 
who could win from me at cards when I was a mere 
boy. But it is true. There is no need to cheat at cards 
when a man is a master of them. I never was accused 
of cheating in a game of cards in my life. 

Most men don't play cards: they play at them. A 
master does not have to deal from the bottom of the 
deck or resort to other devices which have more place 
in fiction than in fact. I was born with what is called 
a card sense, just as some persons are born with ability 
at music, or at writing, or painting. 

My custom was to get with players who had money, 
and then win the money. The trick was to get with 

34 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



the people who had the money. That is where the con 
came in. And, since not one player in ten thousand 
really knows anything about cards, where was the 
necessity for cheating during the play? There wasn't 
any. 

Why, in order to get the big money, I have conned 
myself without question into the best society in the 
world. Social climbers would have given their shirts 
to have been in situations which I have reached rather 
easily — because the con is natural to me. 

Just as one instance, at one time I was on terms of 
close friendship with the officers of the King's Own 
Regiment, the 14th Hussars, in England. It was all 
rigged for me to meet the Prince of Wales, afterwards 
King Edward. But I wasn't after social advancement: 
I was after the cash. And so I took the officers' 
money, and poohed at them all. 

One day I was telling a lady with social aspirations 
that story and she nearly had heart failure. I suppose 
she would have paid a million dollars to have known 
any number of socially prominent persons with whom 
I hobnobbed. 

Of course, it must be understood that I had an 
advantage in that I wasn't bound by facts about myself. 
I could tell any stories I wanted to tell, and I have a 
convincing way. And my horsemanship was one of 

35 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



the best calling cards I possessed. I shone at riding 
to hounds in England. 

And there is another thing about the con. To me 
it was just a continuation of the tricks we used to 
play out on the frontier. I always was full of hell, 
with no sense of responsibility — much to my father's 
sorrow. And I loved a laugh. I love to fool people. 

One of the pleasantest diversions we had in ranch 
life was spoofing the young Englishmen, most of them 
younger sons of noble families, who were sent out 
West to become men and manage the ranches ac- 
quired by their families. And I never seemed to get 
over the spoofing habit. I still laugh when I think 
of the tricks we played on them. 

When a young Englishman came out there, one of 
us would tell him that what he needed was a really 
beautiful horse. Well, some of those mustangs were 
beautiful, white and black, or piebald, and full of 
life and grace. They were picture horses. And he 
would be extremely elated over the exceptionally 
beautiful horse he would get. 

We would all be on hand to see him take his first 
ride, which generally lasted about two somersaults. 
After that, he rested for a few days, generally not in 
a sitting position. 

I'll never forget on my first trip to Bermuda, 
many years later, I met a splendid English chap in 

36 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



the Hamilton Hotel there, and when he learned I was 
from Colorado, he insisted on having me out at his 
home. 

"I have a younger brother in Colorado, and my 
mother would be overjoyed to meet some one from that 
state," he said. 

I went to call at their lovely home, and my heart 
went out to the dear mother. She was sweet and 
charming and eager to hear everything I could tell 
her about the life there, and the wonderful country 
and the bracing air, and all that sort of thing. But 
I had all I could do to keep from laughing when she 
told me quite solemnly: 

"My son has been laid up for some time. The last 
time he wrote, a gentleman had presented him with a 
line horse." 

I knew then that the boys were still up to the old 
game, and I knew also that the young Englishman, her 
son, would be a ring leader in the horse presentation 
to the next tenderfoot. We never hurt those boys out 
in the West, and we wouldn't have let any one else 
hurt them. But we let them furnish us a little inno- 
cent amusement. And once they had been the goats, 
they were more anxious than we to find the next green- 
horn. 

Another of our favorite games was sniping. We 
would tell one of the young chaps that he never had 

37 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



tasted real sport until he had caught snipe in the 
Western manner. When he wanted to have a try at it 
— and all of them wanted it right away — ^we led him 
out to a swamp, or some lonesome water hole, or 
thicket, and handed him a lantern with a candle in it 
and a gunny sack. 

"The snipe will be attracted by the candle," he 
was told. "All you've got to do is stand still, and be 
sure to keep the mouth of the sack open so the snipe 
can walk in." We would all go out ostensibly to beat 
the snipe in towards the light, but really go to camp and 
go to bed, and leave him holding the bag. 

Well, it wasn't unusual for the snipe hunters to 
stay out all night, and next morning we would gather 
up what the mosquitoes left. 

There was another game I loved. That was the 
Indian raid. The first things the boys wanted to know 
about, were Indians, and Indian fights. And we told 
them we had those almost every night. We gave each 
new arrival a rifle and revolver, with no balls to hurt 
any one. And then we staged the most blood curdling 
Indian raid that ever happened. And the new boy 
would shoot off his weapons as fast as he could, and 
we would hand him more weapons. And he would 
have a hell of a time, and we all would have a hell of 
a time. 

I always was long on cooking. We were all equals 

38 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



in camp and on the trails. No cowboy would allow 
that any one was boss, so I had to take my turn at 
various jobs, till finally I got the habit of swapping 
off all other jobs for the cooking job. I knew what I 
was eating then, and I'd rather cook than do night 
watch. 

One night a couple of Germans came to our ranch 
when I was cooking. They couldn't speak English 
very well, and it didn't look as if we could josh them 
much at the start. But some socks the boys had 
washed out were drying on the back of the stove, and 
I eased them into a kettle when the Germans weren't 
looking. And when I saw they were watching, I 
dipped a fork in and pulled a sock or two out, and 
tried to look like a chef deeply interested in his art. 
I salted and peppered them as well as the meat and 
other things I was cooking. 

The Germans' eyes had been bulging out anyway at 
everything they saw, but when they saw those socks 
in the pot they nearly fell over. They pointed to the 
socks, and to their mouths, and looked at me rather 
horrified. I didn't crack a smile, but nodded my 
head, and said, "Yum — soup." 

They were mighty careful not to eat with us that 
night, but years afterwards one of them, then running 
a prosperous store, recognized me, and asked me if 
I remembered the socks in the pot. 

39 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



"That was the greatest shock I got out of the West," 
he said. 

I'll never forget, either, another time at Battle 
Mountain on the Union Pacific. Battle Mountain was 
nothing but a water tank and a section house, but a 
great, long train loaded with immigrants used to stop 
there every day. And a chap had rigged up an outfit 
to sell them dried apple pies at a dollar a pie, and 
jerked meat sandwiches. There also was a cobbler 
filling heavy boots with pegs. 

First I took some of the red leather chips, which 
looked like dried apples, and put them into the apples 
for the pies. Nobody knew who did that. That 
handed me a laugh; and I laugh yet when I think of it, 
and how the immigrants looked when they hit the 
leather. 

Then I conned the proprietor ox the concession to 
let me make sandwiches for a while. I tied a piece 
of black string to the meat, and sold my first sandwich. 
When the immigrant took the sandwich, I pulled out 
the meat with the string. When he kicked, I said with 
a straight face: 

"We don't rectify mistakes." 

Three or four kicks were all I wanted to hear. I 
loved to hear them kick then, and I must confess I 
like to hear them kick now. 

We were about as tame as wild lions in those days. 

40 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



We didn't have any regard for anything or anybody, 
except that we had a code to be on the level. A man 
kept his word, and he didn't shoot any one in cold 
blood, or in the back, and he didn't hurt strangers, 
unless a little kidding hurt them. 

I remember the boys used to think nothing of using 
a few lengths of wire, after the telegraph went 
through, to wrap around meat for broiling over the 
camp fire. The wire made a real handy broiler. And 
if the telegraph service was discommoded, why that 
didn't make the meat taste any less sweet. 

My first gyps were carried on in the same spirit of 
hell-raising. Gyps and cons are all cases of the biter 
being bitten. I got into my three-card monte gyp 
that way because I loved to kid, and because I loved 
to trim suckers. And I got into the horse gyp and 
the foot race gyp in the same way. 

I conned my way around the world and conned 
myself out of jails and took money from hundreds of 
persons in one way or another and spent it just as fast 
as it came rolling in. I've had three-quarters of a 
million dollars at a time, and spent it. But that was 
before I stopped drinking two years ago, when I was 
seventy-five. I decided that in sixty years of hard 
drinking I'd done my share. Now I'm a teetotaler, 
and wonder how any one can be such a damned fool 
as to get drunk. I still believe in drinking like a 

41 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



gentleman, as they say. But I never drank that way. 

Now that I've sort of set the stage for myself for 
the con and the cards, some slight description of the 
hero might not be out of place, although instead of 
hero, I know some persons who would say the south 
end of a horse going north. 

I was my present height, more than six feet, when 
I was fifteen. I didn't weigh the one hundred and 
ninety that I reached in maturity. But I was all bone 
and muscle and gristle, a tough young cock-of-the- 
walk, if ever there was one. 

From childhood I was something of a dude. And 
at the time I arrived in San Francisco I was a pretty 
dashing figure, or I thought I was, anyway. I was 
black: black hair, dark eyes, and naturally dark skin 
burned still darker by the sun and wind of the prairies. 

It was a day and a place where saddles not uncom- 
monly cost as much as a thousand dollars, covered 
with Spanish filigree in silver and fancy work. And 
if the good ones cost that much you might figure that 
mine cost a little more. It was loaded with silver, 
and embossed to the last degree. And my silver bit 
must have weighed a pound and a half. 

I wore a sombrero hat, ruffled silk shirts with 
diamond studs, black broadcloth suit, and riding boots 
of the finest leather. My spurs were great cartwheels 
of silver and steel. 



42 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



I always liked jewelry, and I gratified my tastes in 
that direction. If I wasn't a figure to attract the eye 
it wasn't through any fault of mine. I drank whiskey 
as some persons drink water, but I had a fine rugged 
constitution and it had little effect on me, although 
frequently I found it good business to pretend that I 
was befuddled. 

Like all the rest of my friends, I was quick to take 
olfense. I loved to fight. I never had any other 
thought in a fight except that I was going to get the 
other fellow. Bill Hickok always said "Overrate 
the other fellow," and I always did. But I always 
knew I could lick him. I could fight with my fists, 
with revolvers, and with a knife, although I never 
liked knives. My left hand now is rather warped 
and twisted because I held the other fellows' knife 
blades with it. 

When I was young we used black powder and 
balls in our revolvers. We poured out the powder 
and rammed it home first, and then we put a patch of 
linen around a bullet and rammed that home on top 
of the powder. 

Then came the first cartridges, which were greased 
cylinders holding the bullet and powder. We bit 
off the end of the cheese cloth and poured the powder 
and ball into the barrel. Then came the breech 
loading arms, with metallic cartridges. 

43 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



I've molded many thousands of bullets. Loading 
the muzzle loading-arms was a long task. You were 
likely to want to make what you had in your revolver 
or your rifle count. 

When I was dressed for riding in the Western 
fashion I wore my revolver at my right side, with the 
end of the holster strapped down to my thigh, so that 
the revolver would come free at the slightest tug. 
When I was dressed in civilian clothes I wore a 
shoulder holster, also firmly strapped down. The 
revolver, always a forty-five caliber weapon, was 
ready to my hand just under my left coat lapel. A 
light bullet won't stop a man quick enough. As I 
had practiced the shoulder holster draw, I was pretty 
fast both ways. 

Tricks of fighting always interested me, just as 
cards, and women, and travel and playing games on 
people, always fascinated me. I was a born adven- 
turer. 



44 



CHAPTER IV 



ON HORSEBACK THROUGHOUT THE COAST ONE-QUAR- 
TER- AND ONE-HALF-MILE RACING "wiLD BILL" 

HICKOK ON GUN FIGHTING A DEAL IN 

FLORIDA REAL ESTATE 

Probably I didn't ride a horse before I could walk, 
but I can't remember when I couldn't ride. Since my 
father was a horse-trader, and one of the smartest, 
if not the smartest I ever have known, I not only knew 
how to sit on a horse, but I knew all about the good and 
bad points of horses. I not only never could be fooled 
on a horse trade but I knew all the tricks of training. 
It was my business from childhood to get the best of 
a horse trade, and I made it my pastime to train them. 

This love of horses and horse racing went hand in 
hand with my skill in cards all my life. On my first 
trip to San Francisco I got together a band of quarter- 
and half-mile horses, and raced with them all over 
Montana, Idaho and Washington, and then worked 
back down to 'Frisco again. 

After a short holiday in 'Frisco, I went to Los 
Angeles, which at that time was nothing but a little 
greaser town of 'dobe and corrugated iron buildings 

45 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



located at about where the present Los Angeles Post 
Office stands today. From there, with two pals, I 
rode through Arizona, racing and playing cards at all 
of the ranches and towns en route to El Paso, Texas. 
Tombstone, Phoenix, and Yuma were wild towns in 
those days. There were many gambling and dance 
halls, and there were plenty of killings, 

Yuma was the town to which a cowboy who had 
been killed, and had gone to Hell, sent back for his 
blankets. Or, at least, that was the story. Yuma 
sure was a hot place. 

From El Paso, we crossed the Rio Grande on an 
old wooden bridge to Paso del Norte, "The Pass of 
the North," now Juarez. There was lots of sport in 
that town, all sorts of gambling, horse racing, chicken 
fighting — and women. 

I had an affair in Mexico with a beautiful Senorita, 
whose father, Don Otero, was one of the wealthy 
mining and cattle kings of Chihuahua. This was the 
first affair of mine which led to a bit of real adven- 
ture, and which might have ended with me up against 
a wall at sunrise with a firing squad ready to serve me 
a breakfast of warm lead. 

One of the suitors for the hand of this young lady 
was a hot-blooded young fellow named Page Romero. 
He resented the favors this lovely girl granted me. 
And one day when we were out riding he followed us. 

46 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



I was aware that he was coming, but he rode up and 
hit me over the head with his quirt before I realized 
what was on his mind. 

I jumped off my horse, just as he fired at me and 
missed. My bullet got him, but he wasn't fatally 
wounded. 

Naturally, this young man was mad because I 
had stolen his girl and shot him up in the bargain, 
so he had me arrested and thrown in jail. It was a 
most uncomfortable jail, and the prospects of a firing 
squad in the morning were not pleasant. 

But the Senorita had more influence than young 
Romero, and she got me released. I didn't have to 
break out of the jail and ride off in irons pursued 
by pistol bullets. But I found that there was no rea- 
son for remaining longer in Mexico. 

From there I rode through Texas and into Indian 
Territory, now Oklahoma, and wound up in Hot 
Springs, Arkansas. That town was all in the rough 
then, a wild, tough, gambling and shooting place. 

Sam Hildreth, whose death was reported in the 
newspapers while this was being written, later raced 
quarter- and half-mile horses through that country, 
as did Frank and Jesse James. I knew them all well. 
Frank and Jesse spent most of their money, earned 
by sticking up trains, buying fine horses in Kentucky 
and taking them back to their home in Missouri. 

47 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



In racing the quarter- and half-mile horses we used 
to ride bareback, and for all kinds of bets. It wasn't 
at all unusual to have the stakes in cattle, twenty-five, 
fifty, or seventy-five head. 

One of my wrinkles in this game was to be called 
away on important business when a good match was 
in the making. I would leave the horse I was going 
to race where he could be gotten at. The man I was 
going to race never failed to take out my horse and 
ride him himself against his own horse. And his 
horse always beat mine. 

Of course, when I came back and he made the 
match with me I wasn't supposed to know that he had 
sneaked my horse out for a trial, and found him slow, 
so I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that my horse 
was fast after all, and could beat his without much 
trouble. 

I fixed my horse before I went away so there 
wouldn't be any speed in him, and I had a pal, posing 
as a friend of the other fellow, to ride the other fel- 
low's horse, and to suggest to the other fellow that a 
time trial with my horse while I was away might not 
be a bad idea. 

Of course, that is the whole idea of the con — ^to get 
the other fellow to think that by his trickiness he has 
gotten you into a hole where you can't win. Then 
you take his roll. 

48 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



I read some newspaper account in connection with 
Hildreth's death which said that horses were specially 
trained for quarter- and half-mile distances, and that 
courses were staked out in lanes on the prairie. That 
is all bosh. The horses were those who could run best 
at those distances, and they raced over the smooth 
ground. 

Sam Hildreth, who was a great horseman, would 
have laughed at these descriptions of the sport. He 
was only a lad of eight when I first began racing, but 
I knew him when he began as a young man. 

I don't believe that many persons of the present day 
understand the condition under which the James boys 
lived. They were nice chaps, and were greatly loved 
and admired by their neighbors. If they hadn't been, 
they wouldn't have been able to keep going as long as 
they did. Every one was glad to hide them, and no 
one would give any information against them. They 
had fought in the Civil War, and they just wouldn't 
realize the war was over. They kept right on fight- 
ing it. 

When Jesse finally was killed by his cousin Bob 
Ford, Frank went to Governor Crittenden of Missouri 
and gave up his guns. There was a great how-d'y-do 
about it. Of course Frank had plenty of guns at 
home, but it was a great gesture. Ford killed Jesse 

49 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



while he was hanging a picture in their cabin — shot 
him in the back. 

Afterwards, I shot Bob Ford, got him through the 
right lung down in the Gunnison Country, in Southern 
Colorado. We had an argument, and Bob, who was 
one of the lowest forms of animal life I ever met, just 
grazed me on the left side of the head. An inch the 
other way, and I wouldn't be here. Perhaps the 
forty-five caliber bullet I had pumped into him didn't 
help his aim any. 

You know this fighting with guns wasn't just stand 
up and blaze away at the other fellow regardless. It 
was a racket too. It was full of tricks. "Wild Bill" 
Hickok knew them all. 

One time you'd just turn sidewise in order to pre- 
sent as small a target as possible to the other fellow, 
and the next time you might drop down on one knee, 
quick, and let him have it from there. Or you might 
jump sharply to the left or right; or you might pre- 
tend you saw something behind him before you started 
shooting; or you might stare at his feet as if there 
was something the matter with them. You might do 
anything to confuse or surprise your opponent. The 
whole idea was not to let the man you were going to 
shoot it out with outguess you. 

Fighting with guns, as it was practiced out there 
in the West, was a man's game. You had to do it to 

50 



FIL^NK TARBEAl'X 



keep your self-respect, the way we all figured it. .\ncl 
those who perfected themselves best at it had the best 
chance of sun iving. 

The way "Kid" McCoy used to fight in the ring is 
a good example of how a good gunman used to fight 
in those days. He alvrays was doing something dif- 
ferent. 

Of course, I had lots of luck. During the years 
I'm witing about now, all of the pals in from 
seventh- to a hmidred different mobs I was with were 
kiUed.' 

Hot Springs was one of the hottest to^sTis in the 
West. It was just as bad there as it was on the 
frontier, and it was the same in Fort Smith, too. 
Arkansas always was a tough state that way. 

There was lots of shooting in Hot Springs and a 
lot of men were killed. Ever}* one there was a killer. 
And the feud bet^veen the Major Doran gang and the 
Flynn gang, led by Frank and Billy Fl\Tin, was the 
source of much occasional shooting until finally the 
t^vo gangs lined up on opposite sides of the street one 
day and fought a pitched battle on a small scale. I 
was ^\'ith the Flynns. I didn't get hurt, although 
several were killed. 

In 1871 I was back on the home ranch after my 
wanderings when Colonel E. C. Z. Judson, who ^sTote 
in the "New York Weekly" under the pen name of Ned 

51 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Buntline, came to the West to get local color for his 
stories. Judson was himself a great character, a 
Colonel during the Civil War, a pirate on the high 
seas, a leader in the McCreedy Riots in New York, 
a writer of sizzling fiction, a great temperance lecturer, 
and a boozer, a playwright, a good actor, and a fine 
chap. Buntline got his material at Harry Endrickan's 
Ranch at Julesburg, in the projection of Col- 
orado which cuts into Nebraska, which happened to 
be the only good place for drinking and gambling 
handy to a big section of country. Sidney, Nebraska, 
thirty-eight miles to the west, was the nearest town; 
and North Platte, Nebraska, seventy-eight miles to 
the east, was the next nearest town. Up the South 
Platte to the west was Denver. Across the South 
Platte was Fort Sedgewick, where Bill Cody was the 
garrison butcher. 

There were five or six bedrooms at Endrickan's, 
and a bar, and company for gambling, and it was a 
great concentration point. Buntline met "Wild Bill" 
Hickok there, and Bill Cody, and Jack Omahandra, 
and myself. 

He found plenty of material for his stories for the 
"New York Weekly," and in them he called Bill Cody 
"Buffalo Bill," and Jack Omahandra "Texas Jack," 
and me "Arizona Frank." "Wild Bill" already had 
his nickname. But the rest of us didn't deserve the 



52 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



names we got, any more than we might have deserved 
any other names. 

Bill Cody worked for my father for a year and a 
half before he went to work as a garrison butcher. 
He was a great big, handsome chap, but he never 
killed anything but animals in his life. He never 
drew back his fist in anger against a man in his life. 
He was a showman from the time Buntline met him 
until his death. All his history of fighting Indians, 
or any one else, is all pure fiction, gotten up for show 
purposes. 

There was a little chap out in North Platte, Dave 
Perry, a saloon keeper, who weighed about one hun- 
dred and twenty-five pounds, who used to beat up 
Bill Cody every chance he got. I finally asked Dave 
not to beat up Bill any more. I said: 

"Dave, he's no man. Let him alone." 

Shooting buffalo was no trick at all. All you did 
was ride into a herd, and shoot a bullet in the poor 
brutes' lungs. You had a mark as big as a barn door 
to aim at, and you couldn't miss. The buffalo you 
hit wouldn't drop right away, but finally he would lie 
down and die. 

Easterners who liked to see their game fall down 
immediately used to fill one buffalo full of enough 
lead to founder him. But with us, it was just a ques- 
tion of how many buffalo were wanted, and one 

53 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



bullet to a beast. It was the same as killing cows. 

I used to ride into those herds myself and catch 
a calf by the tail and hold on to him until the herd 
had gone on, and then lift him up and lay him across 
the saddle in front of me and take him into camp 
and give him to the officers' wives at the garrison for 
a pet. He was all right while he was very young, 
but when he began to feel his oats he wasn't so sweet. 

The pets that really were lovely, were the cute little 
antelope babies. I used to chase a mother antelope 
until she left the babies behind. An antelope has one 
or two. When I came up the babies would be hiding 
their heads under a sage bush. I would pick them up 
and stuff them in my shirt, and take them to the ladies. 
With colored ribbons around their necks they made 
the darlingest little pets you ever saw. 

Bill Cody was just a butcher, plain and simple. 
He never showed the faintest spark of fighting spirit. 
In fact, years later when I had occasion to slap his 
face in a hotel in Vienna, he put up his hands to pro- 
tect himself, and said: 

"Please don't hit me, Frank." 

I might as well tell that story right now, as it illus- 
trates how I feel about Bill Cody. 

I was in Paris in the Summer of '89, when Bill 
Cody landed there with the Buffalo Bill show — ^he was 
only a salaried man at all times — which was pitched 

54 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



outside the octroi, or city boundary. The Chatham 
Bar was the big American meeting-place, and a 
favorite hangout of mine. One day Bill Cody walked 
in. 

"Hello, Frank," said he. 

"Hello, Bill," said I, and we had a couple of drinks. 

"Why don't you come out and have dinner with 
us on Sunday, and bring your friend along?" Bill 
asked after a while, referring to a pal who was with 
me. "I've got several of the Chiefs you know with 
me, and three or four squaw men acting as inter- 
preters. Don't let 'em know who you are, and we can 
have some fun." 

That sounded fair enough to me, and so the next 
Sunday my pal and I set out for Bill's show. We 
drove in a Victoria behind a flashy pair. We wore 
silk hats shining in the sun, Prince Albert coats, as 
they're called in this country, a gardenia in the button- 
hole, black and white shirts. Ascot ties with pearl 
stickpin, and patent leather boots. We were objects 
of curiosity at the show, where we had dinner in the 
mess tent. We were pointed out as European dudes. 

Afterwards, we fooled around. I'd say something 
in Sioux, and the Indians would look around wonder- 
ing who was calling them names. They knew I 
couldn't be talking Indian because of my get-up. 
Well, after quite a bit of fun that way, Bill asked 

55 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



them if they didn't recognize Frank Tarbeaux. And 
then we had a hell of a pow-wow. 

They were very anxious to have me ride a bucking 
horse, but I declined. I told them that I had become 
civilized, and that a carriage was a better means of 
transportation, according to my way of thinking. 

We had a fine time, and went back to Paris in 
good fettle. I thought Bill wasn't so bad after all. 
But later I was told by my pals around the Chatham 
Bar that he had warned them that I was a sharper. 
That got me hopping mad. 

Some time later I happened to be in Vienna when 
Bill had his show in the Prater. I was stopping at 

the Imperial Hotel with the Baroness D , a very 

beautiful woman, when I happened to spy Mr. Bill 
in the corridor one day. I sat her down and excused 
myself. I went up to Bill and said : 

"You dirty So-and-So, what did you do that to me 
in Paris for?" 

"I didn't do anything, Frank," he said. 

I just took him by the neck with my left hand, and 
slapped his face with the heel of my right hand. And 
I left him there with a swollen face. 

He was a fine looking man, who could break balls 
with birdshot all right, but of all the yellow humans 
I've ever met, he was it. When Nate Salsbury was 
managing him, he sent Bill out on the Plains for a 

56 



FR.\NK TARBEAUX 



couple of months for the background. He was sup- 
posed to have killed Yellow Hand, or some Indian on 
that trip. 

Buffalo Bill never killed an Indian in his life, and 
those people who say they saw him do it are suffering 
from hallucinations. He worked for my father when 
first I knew him, as quite a boy, and then he was a 
garrison butcher until Ned Buntline, who named him 
Buffalo Bill, met him, and after that he was a show- 
man all his life. Where in hell did he get time to 
ride pony expresses, and go scouting, and everything 
else he was supposed to have done? 

Jack Omahandra was another bird who was no 
more of the real West than a Chinaman. He was a 
Virginian, who had worked around into Texas and 
come up over the Trail with cattle in the spring. He 
met Ned Buntline at Endrickan's, on his first trip. 

"Wild Bill" Hickok was something else again. He 
was the greatest gunfighter in the West, Marshal of 
Abilene and Dodge City, killed twenty-five or thirty 
men, and was a hell roarer if there ever was one. 
He also was my pal. 

I was in the poker game in Mann and Manning's 
saloon in Deadwood, in '76, when "Wild Bill" was 
shot and killed. It happened that I had gone across 
the street to get a bite to eat when it happened, and 
got back only in time to see Bill dead. 

57 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



In that game were John Mann, one of the pro- 
prietors, "Wild Bill," Captain Massey, a Missouri 
River captain, and Charlie Rich, my partner. I early 
had learned that a man was better oif in a poker game 
if he had a partner. We used to spell each other, 
and that gave us the edge of being fresher than the 
others. I would play for a while, and then Rich 
would take my place. 

This time I had left Rich playing our hand. The 
man who shot Bill through the back of the head was 
a half-witted hanger-on, half-crazed by booze. If I 
remember correctly, he was one of the McCoys, and 
was sent to do the job by Johnny Varnes, who had it 
in for Bill. Bill never saw McCoy in his life. 

The bullet went right through Bill's head and hit 
Captain Massey in the arm. 

Right after "Wild Bill" was shot, I was in a stage 
station at Crazy Woman's Fork, when a stage driver 
came in. The waiter had been reading yellow-backed 
novels, I guess, and wore his hair down his back. 
Said the driver: 

"Did you hear the news about Bill's bein' killed?" 

Said the waiter: "What Bill?" 

" 'Wild Bill' Hickok. 

"Wal," the waiter said, "there's on'y a few of us 
left." 

We all liked Colonel Judson a lot. He was an 



58 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



adventurer himself, and he could understand us 
and we could understand him. He was short, but 
he was stocky, and he wasn't afraid of the devil him- 
self. 

He was a national character, too. The "New York 
Weekly" was a national institution in those days, and 
carloads of bill posters were sent to every town in the 
United States advertising what Ned Buntline was 
going to write about next. He was better advertised 
than a circus. 

When the Colonel went back to Chicago he took 
Omahandra and Cody with him. The three of them 
carried what extra clothes they had in a sack, and the 
sack wasn't full. But the Colonel always knew what 
he was doing. He went to Nixon, owner of Nixon's 
amphitheater, and told him that he would deliver a 
free temperance lecture. Nixon agreed, as the Colonel 
was such a drawing card. And the lecture came off 
as scheduled. 

But when the lecture was over, the Colonel sprang 
a trick of his own. He promised the audience that 
right in that very hall within a week or so they would 
see a play by him called "Scouts of the Prairie," with 
a cast including the original heroes of the Buntline 
stories, and wild Indians. Then the Colonel called 
Cody and Omahandra from behind the wings where 
he had hidden them, and introduced them as "Buffalo 

59 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Bill," and "Texas Jack," two of the original heroes. 

I wasn't there when all this happened, but I was 
told about it many times by the Colonel and by other 
of my friends. The Colonel was broke and just used 
his big reputation as a temperance lecturer to get over 
a plan he had for writing and putting on a play. 
Nixon was alarmed, and not a little angry because of 
the Colonel's unexpected announcement, and his in- 
troduction of the "two heroes" — who didn't have a 
nickel at the moment, and were, as a matter of fact, 
just two bums dragged along as props. Nixon told 
Buntline that he had made a fine mess of things. 
Buntline was very cocky. 

"I haven't a play right now," he said, "but I'll have 
one tomorrow." 

And, he told me, he wrote "The Scouts of the 
Prairie," in a night. Perhaps if you read it now you 
might think he only took an hour for it, but it had a 
great vogue at the time, and made the Colonel a pot 
of money. 

As soon as he had dashed it off, he got hold of a 
stock company that had been stranded in Chicago, and 
with "Texas Jack" and "Buffalo Bill" for his "real 
heroes" and some tame Indians imported from 
Canada, he was ready for his opening on schedule, 
or fairly near it. 

While the show was in rehearsal, he went around 



60 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



to the newspapers and conned them into giving him 
ads. They were glad to give him publicity notices. 
He was a great figure, and deservedly so. And he 
was a damned fine con man too. 

When the show opened, and was a hit, Buntline was 
on easy street. He ran along smoothly with "Texas 
Jack" and "Buffalo Bill" and his tame Indians for 
several months. He had advance agents, and the 
money rolled in. 

It was the following year that the Colonel, who 
had had a fight with "Buffalo Bill" and "Texas Jack," 
and who wanted American Indians and "Wild Bill" 
and me in his show, asked us to join him. I had 
been a scout for so many of the commands, and knew 
the army so well, that I had little difficulty in getting 
permission from the Government for a band of real, 
simon-pure Sioux warriors to join "The Scouts of the 
Prairie." They were the first wild Plains Indians 
ever seen east of the Missouri River. 

"Wild Bill" and I joined Buntline at his home in 
Stamford, New York, in the Catskills. He called it 
the Eagle's Nest, or something like that. We had our 
try-out under canvas at Kingston, New York, and we 
went over with a bang. 

I enjoyed being an actor a whole lot, but "Wild 
Bill" always was wishing to get back to the frontier. 
He used to say: 

61 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



"Frank, I belong out there, and I'll never feel 
right- until I get back." 

We had a great time while we were actors, being 
paid the princely salaries of $200 a week. As I 
never refused to play cards when some one invited me 
into a game, I added considerably to my income as 
an actor. And so did "Wild Bill." 

I have been asked if we did any shooting in "The 
Scouts of the Prairie." My answer always has been, 
"That is what it was." 

We closed the season with the show in 1874 in 
Louisville, Kentucky, when Buntline went on a 
bender. Ned Buntline remains one of the most inter- 
esting characters I ever have known. The last time 
I ever saw him he and Dan Rice, the old circus man, 
were walking arm-and-arm, and a bit free and wide, 
in the streets of Louisville, Kentucky. 

Bill and I returned to the West. There, I found 
my father had decided he felt so ill that he wished 
to return to Freeport to live. And he wanted me to 
go to Florida with him to look for a winter place 
there, and to take some horses along. 

My father wouldn't go anywhere without horses. 
His life was wrapped up in them, and they always 
were essential to his happiness. So, I bought forty 
small pony horses in Chicago, nice, fat, round ones, 
such as they used to drive in pairs on butchers' and 

62 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



bakers' delivery wagons. I paid from twenty to 
twenty-five dollars apiece for them, and they were all 
sound and right. 

I loaded the bunch into two slat, or stock cars, each 
car half-filled with hay. Such transportation was 
far from common in those days, and I had to figure 
out my own method of caring for the stock. The 
first stop was at the stockyards in Cairo, Illinois. 
There I gave the horses twenty-four hours of feeding 
and rest 

The next stage of the trip was Nashville, Tennessee, 
where I gave them another twenty-four hour rest, and 
then followed Chattanooga, Tennessee, Atlanta, and 
Macon, in Georgia, and finally. Live Oaks, Florida. 

The Southern roads were terrible at that time. It 
took me twelve days to travel from Chicago to Live 
Oaks. I rode in the caboose on the train with the 
horses, and messed with the train crews, who each 
had a colored boy for cook. I chipped in my share 
for board. My harness, buggy and a saddle were 
packed on top of one of the cars. Father made the 
trip by passenger train and joined me at Live Oaks. 

There I fitted up a mess chest and put it on the back 
of the buggy. I hitched a pair to the buggy, and 
father drove that. I rode horseback, driving the 
bunch of horses. In that way we went down the course 
of the Suwanee River, camping out for the most part, 

63 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



as at that time there were no inns in that part of 
Florida. 

At Noonansville, off the river, and about sixteen 
miles from Gainesville, we put up at a sort of an 
inn. Father had noticed a nice, big plantation home 
just on the edge of this village. He asked the land- 
lord of the inn who owned it, and he was told it was 
the property of Colonel Scott, who also owned the 
big general store in Gainesville. 

"Is Scott a trading man?" father wanted to know. 

*'He is as keen as a Yankee," was the reply. 
*'Colonel Scott fit in the wa'h, and is a right smart 
trader." 

"Well," father said to me afterwards, "what do 
you say to me, son? Will you ride over and see if 
you can do Colonel Scott?" 

I did. I took four of the best of the horses, and 
asked the Colonel how many of that sort he would 
take for the property, which consisted of fifty acres, 
a fine big colonial house, stables, servants' quarters, 
and fruit and cane, all complete, a beautiful place for 
that section of Florida. 

The Colonel said he would take twenty horses, and 
I said I would give him fifteen. We compromised 
on sixteen, which is what I gave him for the estate. 
Father moved right in, and we sent for mother. I 
drove clear across the state to Jacksonville to meet her, 



64 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



and drove back in the buggy. There was no other 
way. 

Father and mother wintered in that place as long 
as they lived. Father kept a few of the horses for his 
own use, and he sold the balance for from one hun- 
dred and fifty to three hundred dollars each. There- 
fore, I got that property for less than nothing. 

After I got them settled, I went into Jacksonville, 
Noonansville and Gainesville, but they were too slow 
for me. I joined Charlie ("Kid") Miller, who was 
killed in New York by Billy Tracey a couple of years 
afterwards. Charlie, Ed Foster and Billy Raymond 
were there with a gambling house and various gyps. 

In the spring I took my first sea trip, sailing from 
Fernandina, Florida, to New York. Jacksonville then 
was a one-street town at the end of the railroad. There 
was nothing south of it, and no tourists. The state was 
civilized only where the boats touched. The interior 
was wild, and the Seminoles still were in the Ever- 
glades. 

I spent a few days in New York, Chicago and Free- 
port, and then I got back on the frontier. The Black 
Hills boom was on about that time. 



65 



CHAPTER V 



WITH CUSTER AT THE LITTLE BIG HORN HOLDING UP 

STAGE COACHES ^WILD DAYS IN THE WEST 

In the spring of 1875 I returned to the frontier. 
I took into Grand Island, Nebraska, more than one 
thousand horses, which I sold on time mostly to im- 
migrant farmers, Swedes, Norwegians and Germans. 
I paid $25 apiece for the horses and sold them for 
$25 in cash and took a chattel mortgage for $100 
more, or a promissory note at fifteen per cent. That 
was a great graft, but a legitimate one, and too tame 
for me. 

I had a big stable and stock yards in Grand Island, 
Nebraska, and I transacted my business from there. 
I remember on one occasion I was in camp about 
seventy-five miles from the town with my boys, who 
were hardened sinners if there ever were such, and a 
band of over a thousand horses for sale to the immi- 
grants. I happened to come upon a house when I was 
riding to camp from Grand Island, and so I went in 
to see if I couldn't get a drink. 

No one was at home, and so I looked around and 
all I could find was a jug of whiskey, a cake, and a 

66 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



chunk of limburger cheese. I ate the cake and when 
I got near camp, planted the limburger under a sage 
bush, and took the jug of whiskey to the camp. After 
the boys got drunk and passed out, I went and got 
the limburger, and rubbed it well into their beards. 

When those babies woke up feeling rocky and ter- 
rible anyway, and smelled themselves, they took on 
something awful. They thought there was something 
the matter with them, and I guess there was. If you've 
never had your whiskers rubbed full of limburger, 
or been in the same neighborhood with some one that 
has, you can get only a faint idea of what was bother- 
ing them. 

This was the year that marked the beginning of 
Deadwood, a wild mining-camp where everything 
Went. There was lots of gambling, and dance halls 
and saloons. Seth Bullock, who owned a hardware 
store, was made Sheriff, and he was better at selling 
frying pans than catching crooks because the boys 
held up the stage almost as soon as it left camp. I 
always understood Bullock was a relation of the late 
President Roosevelt. 

The hold-up men killed Johnnie Slaughter, who 
was one of the most popular stage drivers on the 
Cheyenne-Deadwood route. I have been with them 
when they went right back to a gambling place and 
played the gold they had just taken from the stage 

67 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



an hour or so before. They had a guard at the door 
to protect them, a couple of the gang with Winchesters. 

I never had any use for crimes of violence, and 
the only time I took part in holding up a stage was 
for the pure hell of it. I told the boys before we 
started that if there was any shooting I could be 
depended upon to do some myself, and that it 
wouldn't be passengers I was aiming at. 

But there was little need for any worry. The pas- 
sengers all stuck up their hands like sheep, and walked 
out and lined up, as requested. And I got a great 
laugh out of the way they looked. As I have said, I 
didn't know any better in those days. I thought it 
was just a development of the snipe-hunting trick, I 
guess. But hold-ups are cowardly pieces of business 
at best. 

I always thought the way the gold was divided was 
pretty good. The leader poured out the geld from 
the elkskin bag in which it was packed, into a panni- 
kin. Then he took an iron spoon, and dipped out as 
much as it would hold. 

"That's yourn," he said, dumping it into one of the 
boy's pans. 

"And that's yourn," he said, dumping another 
spoonful into a pan of another of the boys. 

And he kept spooning it out that way until there 
wasn't any gold left in the bag. And if he dug in a 

68 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



little deeper when it came his turn I never noticed 
any objections. 

In those days the ranchers were divided into two 
classes: those that were right, and those that were 
wrong. The ranchers that were right, minded their 
own business and told no one anything. Those that 
were wrong informed the Sheriff or some one if they 
heard of a stage coach being held up, or anything like 
that. And I guess many of the wrong ones wished 
they had been right. Our ranch was one of the right 
ranches. We never asked any callers their business, 
and if we happened to learn from their conversation 
that they had just pulled off a job, we forgot about it 
right there. 

I've seen the proceeds of several stage-coach hold- 
ups divided across the table in our ranch on the Chug 
Water, and after the loot was divided I have won 
some of it for myself, more than once. I never cared 
where the money I won came from, then, or since. The 
only moralizing I ever heard from my father was 
when he objected to me hanging around on scouting 
expeditions with the troops, and when I left him 
finally. On that last occasion his only advice was: 

"Whatever you do, avoid the scratch and the 
forney." 

The scratch is forgery and forney is counterfeiting. 
I always have followed my father's advice in that 

69 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



matter. Any checks I ever wrote were good, and 
they were signed with the name mider which I was 
keeping a bank account at the time. My experience 
has been that two of the most foolish crimes that one 
can commit are those. It is a strange thing that when 
men of good family go wrong and break up, their first 
instinct seems to be either to cash a worthless check, 
or pass a forged one. 

I remember once during those bad days in the 
'70's, I rode into Laramie with Jack Watkins and his 
crowd. They were bad company for me, I expect. 
Anyhow, the Sheriff met us, and said: 

"I'm going to give you fifteen minutes to get out 
of this town. If you're here after that I'll hang you 
to the nearest telegraph post." 

"Say, Governor," Jack said, "if my mule don't 
buck I won't want five minutes." 

We were gone in less than that, as fortunately Jack's 
horse didn't buck. 

Those were still the days when ranches were homes 
and not hotels or boarding houses, and the greeting 
to travelers was: 

"Stay as long as you will, stranger, and glad to 
have you." 

It was all hospitality and an insult to offer to pay. 
If you had offered any one pay for food and bunk it 
would have been taken as a terrible insult. 



70 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



Calamity Jane first was heard of in Deadwood. She 
was one of the dance hall women there, and no dif- 
ferent from any of the rest except that one of the stick- 
up boys fell for her, and put her on a horse and took 
her along with the mob. She just rode along with the 
boys for a few weeks, and now they have a fine monu- 
ment in or near Rapid City, in honor of Calamity 
Jane, a great pioneer heroine. I knew this great 
pioneer heroine very well. 

In this same year I joined John Bull and Doc Bags 
in Idaho. They were great pals of mine then, and 
during the years that followed. I just got word while 
I was working on this book of John Bull's death at 
the age of ninety-eight out in Vancouver, B. C. When 
I saw him a year ago he was as fresh and sprightly as 
a young man of sixty. 

That leaves only Doc Bags, of all the old-timers I 
knew on the frontier. I hear of men who say they 
were there, and they may have gone out as soldiers, 
but I'm talking of the old frontier crowd of real ad- 
venturers, who made the West the place they like to 
read about today. 

Doc Bags, who of course isn't using that name any 
more than I am using the name Tarbeaux, is retired, 
and lives on his beautiful estate near New York. My 
wife tells me that the Doc looks and acts younger than 
I do ; he is ninety-three, while I'm only seventy-seven. 

71 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Those were great pals. John killed Bad Jim Kelly 
in Bannock, and later, in Montana, he killed Farmer 
Peel, a notorious gunfighter. Years after that John 
had a shooting match with Fiskey Barnett in a dance 
hall in Spokane. Fiskey grabbed one of the girls and 
held her in front of him as a shield, and shot off John's 
arm. John was too gallant to shoot Fiskey through 
the woman, so Fiskey escaped. Luckily for Fiskey, 
they never met again. 

When the Deadwood Boom came in '76, I took to 
freighting in supplies as my legitimate business. I 
had five four-horse and four-mule wagons with trail- 
ers, the same idea as the ones you see hitched to the 
rear of touring automobiles now-a-days, and I loaded 
with freight for Deadwood in Cheyenne, Wyoming, 
Fort Pierre, or Yankton, in Dakota, or in Sidney, 
Nebraska. 

All four of these towns were about the same distance 
from Deadwood, six hundred miles as we figured it, 
and we loaded in whichever place we heard there was 
plenty of freight. There were no beaten roads, just 
rough country. The only inhabited spots on any of 
the routes were the stage stations, where the changes 
of horses for the stages were kept and something to 
eat was provided. 

We had our work cut out for us, bouncing over the 
trails and fording the rivers, which in many cases 

72 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



were bedded with quicksand, and the wagons rode 
just as if you were driving down a flight of steep steps. 
It was not unusual for us to have to unhitch, and put 
all the animals on a wagon, and make a separate trip 
for the trailer. It was a hard life, but we were used to 
it and thought nothing of it. And the prices paid for 
the freight were enormous. The profits from one trip 
ran into thousands of dollars. 

We had quite a bit of trouble with the Indians. 
Deadwood was on the Sioux Reservations, and the 
Indians didn't like it. I think the Indians were right: 
in fact, I know they were. The whites had no rights 
there, and abused the Indians shamefully from first 
to last. 

The sugar they sold those Indians was nothing but 
sand; even the ponies couldn't eat the flour, and the 
blankets they sold them must have been bought from 
places that manufactured specially for the Indian 
trade. Put one of those blankets on a horse, and he 
would go over Pike's Peak. They were full of 
prickers of some kind. Since I've become civilized, 
I've wondered many times where they got the blankets. 

Besides the inferior and often rotten goods that 
were palmed off on the Indians by the very persons 
who were supposed to be looking out for their welfare, 
it might be mentioned that the Indians always had 
been careful of the game. An Indian never killed 

73 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



more meat than he needed. And when he saw the 
whites slaughtering the buffalo and elk and antelopes 
and game birds by the thousands and hundreds of 
thousands, it made him just as wild as it would make 
a farmer of today if some strangers should move into 
his neighborhood and begin killing off all his live- 
stock. 

Another thing that didn't make the Indians happy 
was the murderous cruelty with which they were 
treated by certain white men. At a place called Raw- 
hide Bottom, I remember a fellow shot a papoose and 
a squaw, for nothing that I ever knew, except to test 
his aim. The Indians got that fellow, spreadeagled 
him and skinned him alive. I'd do the same if any 
one killed my wife and baby, and think it was too 
good for him. 

My sympathies were with the Indian then, and 
they're with him now. They're with every race that 
the white man has debauched and degraded with his 
so-called civilization, and his missionaries. When 
I hear the word missionaries, I see red. 
. It was the fact that the whites were on the Sioux 
Reservation which really started the war that came 
to a climax in the Custer Massacre. 

When the different commands went out on the trail 
of the Indians I went with Custer. He was a favorite 
with me, although the other officers didn't give a 

74 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



damn either for him or his brother Tom. Custer 
used to say to me: 

"Damn you, Frank. You scare me with your war 
whoops more than you do the other Indians." 

As was usual with me, I was on nothing but an 
adventure. I didn't give a hang for anything but the 
excitement. My sympathies were with the Indians, 
but I liked a fight and figured I had a better chance 
of getting it with Custer than with the others. 

I never was a duly accredited scout with any of 
the commands I went with, and I went along with many 
of them. I never drew a dollar of pay in my life. 
But I didn't lose any money at the card games the 
officers played. 

The day before the massacre Custer asked me to 
take a message to General Terry. And I rode all night 
that night, and reached Terry in the morning. I was 
with a sergeant and a corporal's guard riding ahead, 
when we found that Custer and his men had been 
killed. Custer was dead, but he was not scalped. 
Indians who were there told me afterwards that they 
didn't want to kill Custer, but that they had to do it. 
They thought he was a brave man, a square shooter, 
and a great fighter, which he was. He was a hell of 
a fellow. 

I have been asked how it was that I didn't see any 
Indians on that night ride. Such questions are asked 

75 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



by those who aren't familiar with the conditions. 
Indians didn't put out pickets in the military sense. 
The commands which were supposed to be working 
in harmony with Custer, but weren't, were to the East 
and North, and there was no one to the West and 
South. It was perfectly easy to make a detour around 
the Indians, and ride. I was brought up with Indians, 
and knew them and their ways better than I knew the 
ways of white men. The country was the same to me 
as the home town of a city man. 

Friends have remarked that I wasn't called in any 
of the inquiries about the massacre. Another mes- 
senger was sent to Terry with a request for aid. I 
don't know what was in the message I carried. I 
didn't see any excitement anyhow. I left before it 
started, and got back after it was all over. 

It was in Leadville in 1877 that I first met Frank 
Harris. Apparently that meeting impressed him a 
good deal, because more than forty years afterwards 
he began with that little incident, and used two or 
three other chance meetings he had with me later in 
different parts of the world to make a little story 
about me. 

I had had a little fight in a saloon with three men 
who thought they were tough. I've forgotten what 
the fight was about, but I was shot through the right 

76 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



shoulder after I had shot and killed one of the men, 
and was putting a bullet in the other. 

Harris quotes the doctor as saying I was all hide 
and horns and tough as a Texas steer, which I was. 
But I wasn't shot through both lungs, as Harris re- 
called. As a matter of fact, it wasn't a fight that 
ever stood out in my mind as particularly interesting 
— nothing like the Cutlas affair, for instance. 

The doctor, who was treating Harris for something 
or other, introduced us, and I liked Harris. He could 
ride, and he had something of the spirit of an ad- 
venturer. His description of the meeting is before 
me. He wrote: 

"He had on a white ruffled silk shirt that set off 
his mahogany skin. The glance he flashed at me as 
1 entered the room startled me: it had the wild chal- 
lenge of a hawk's. I couldn't at first explain the im- 
periousness of it. The upper part of his face was very 
fine indeed; the nose regular, the forehead good, 
broad and well shaped; the eyes magnificent, a clear 
hazel with red-gold specks in them — a mixture of heat 
and light." 

And after flattering me in my salad days in that 
way, he went on to remark that I had a mouth like 
a camel. If Frank only knew how I dislike camels! 

Anyhow, it seems I couldn't remember enough 
details about the gun-fight to satisfy him, that my 

77 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



powers of observation and knowledge of the "signs 
of the wild," and what he was pleased to call my 
"courage, self-blame, patient acceptance of facts and 
unearthly wariness," made quite an impression on 
him. 

Of course, the facts are that I was a regular devil, 
who had been brought up with savages, impressed by 
strong and lawless men much older than myself that 
the way I lived was the only way, and I wouldn't have 
lived a month if I hadn't been ready for trouble, and 
willing to face it. God! I always was in trouble 
if by trouble is meant fights. 

I've been asked so often what my emotions were 
when I was fighting that I'm getting sort of apologetic 
for my reply that I didn't know I had any. I didn't 
know what the word meant until years later. 

My mother always told me that I was very nervous 
when I was a boy, and that I wouldn't be able to stand 
any of the excitement of the frontier. As a matter 
of fact, my first experience with the possibility of 
danger revealed that I became absolutely stone cold 
at such a moment. The feeling I had in a fight, or when 
a fight was impending, was that I was calmer than the 
other man, or men, that I was thinking ten times as 
fast, and that I was going to get him or them. I never 
had the slightest thought that I ever was going to be 
the one gotten. 



78 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



I was a boy among older men all through the early 
years, and they all told me that I was such a fire-eater 
that I wouldn't live to vote. But I'm still living, al- 
though I'm not voting. 

I rode with Harris and met him again shortly after- 
wards in Denver, where he made quite a how-do-you- 
do out of an affair I had with a girl there, and of my 
winning $50,000 from the man who was keeping her, 
and then playing him double or quits if he would give 
me a chance with the girl. 

That's the trouble with writers. They see too much 
romance in what is only a little affair with a girl. Sir 
Gilbert Parker got sentimental all through his book 
about an affair I had with another girl whom he called 
Alice Rahlo. I was having affairs with a half-dozen 
girls at the same time. Writers should have some 
perspective. 

Why, whenever I've come back from some out-of- 
the-way place to civilization it seems to me there al- 
ways has been an author or two sitting in an easy chair 
on the front porch (or waiting at the bar) to ask me 
to describe what happened, so they could have some- 
thing to write about. 

I suppose a writer would want to make a whole ro- 
mance about one of the Indian girl wives I had, or 
about some of the Princesses or Baronesses I've lived 
with since. But Fm married now, and have been 

79 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



most happily for fifteen years, and so far as I'm con- 
cerned, those women are women I have lived with, 
and who have been damned nice to me. And I think 
I was damned nice to them. 

After I left Frank for good, for that time, I took 
some quarter- and half-mile horses through Arizona 
and into California to Los Angeles. Then I came 
back to Indian Territory, Arkansas and Missouri, 
where I gambled and raced horses with all the celeb- 
rities of the time. That was just about the time when 
Frank and Jesse James brought back some fine stal- 
lions and mares from Kentucky, 



80 



CHAPTER VI 



THE THREE-CARD MONTE GYP, IN WHICH I AM "bUD 
ALEXANDER FROM KAINTUCKY" 

In 1878 my mother knew that she would not live 
very long, and there was a mighty bond between her 
and me, so I went back to Freeport, Illinois, to live 
with her. I had a big conditioning stable there and 
a half-mile training track. 

I made trips down into Kentucky and Tennessee 
buying horses, and I dealt in every kind of horse 
flesh, fine and not so fine. I used to go to Steve 
Maxwell's stable in Jefferson Street, Louisville, 
Kentucky, and Steve would furnish me with a pair of 
horses and a Concord buggy. Then I would drive 
over the pike to Frankford, Eminence, Shelbyville 
and Lexington. I would stop at a livery stable in 
each place and buy horses and bind the bargain with 
drinks. And I drank as I drove — good corn liquor. 

When I had bought a bunch of horses I would get 
stable men to road them over the pike to Maxwell's 
stable in Louisville. When I had enough I would 
ship them to Freeport, and fit them up for the differ- 
ent markets. 



81 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



At other times I would go to Nashville, and Colum- 
bia, Tennessee. I used to stop at the old Maxwell 
House in Nashville, and buy from Sam Black's stable 
in Cherry Street, and also from stables in Columbia. 
Frequently I would try out the horses at the half-mile 
course at Columbia where Ed Geers was training. 
Columbia was Ed's home town; he was then a young 
man and had his first real good one, a little chestnut 
mare named Mattie Hunter, who first brought him 
fame on the Northern Circuit. Campbell Brown, who 
lived on the Columbia and Nashville Pike, had a fine 
breeding farm near Columbia, and I used to visit 
him a great deal. I bought some horses from him, 
and we used to play cards. I played cards in all of 
the sporting saloons in that section. 

Perhaps this is as good a place as any to mention 
that I never bet on a horse race in my life unless I 
owned and trained the horse. I have to laugh when 
the boys look over the dope sheets, and one of them 
says, "This one looks right to win." 

I spent a good portion of my days when I was 
training horses, trying to get a horse to look as if 
he wasn't right to win, so that I could win some money 
on him myself. The trick is to get a horse right, but 
not to have him look right. You can get big odds on 
what looks like an also ran. 

I had a wonderful time on those horse-buying trips. 

82 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



I always had a good time everywhere in the world 
until I suddenly woke up at the age of seventy-five, 
and found that I merely was drinking alcohol from 
habit to keep myself sick. So, at seventy-five I went 
on the wagon, and I am having a wonderful time now. 
I often wonder why it took me so long to find out I 
was a damned fool in that particular respect. 

It is impossible for me to include all the jokes we 
played, because I always was horsing someone. I 
remember one game we used to love, particularly 
on the Southern trips, where the Negroes of the type 
we needed were plentiful. We used to wait until we 
were sure an old Negro was in ear shot, and then I 
would say: 

"Now, about 'possum. First, you catch him, and 
then you take his entrails out. Then you scald him, 
and put him on the chicken house for the frost to 
take the bitterness out. And then you parboil him, 
and then you put him in a Dutch oven with yams, 
and baste him till he's a cherry brown." 

There were more savory details in this spiel, and 
we would be watching the old darky without ap- 
pearing to know that he was within a mile. When 
I had finished my partner would say: 

"Aw, that ain't the way." 

"Why," I would exclaim, looking around and see- 
ing the darky for the first time, "here is a colored 

83 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



man right here. Let's ask him what he thinks about 
it." 

"Yaaas, suh," the old darky would say. "Yaaas, 
suh. I heard yo', and all I c'n say is yo' all suttinly 
knows how to cook a 'possum." 

Well, I laugh yet when I remember how all the old 
darkies we played that little game with all made the 
same answer, and all of them had the same watery 
look about the mouth. 

On one of our trips a pal and I were on a sleeper 
leaving Cincinnati. I had drunk a lot and eaten more 
deviled crabs than I should. And I was pretty sick. 
I kept saying, "I'm going to die; I'm going to die." 

The porter said to my pal: 

*'That gen'lman is pretty sick. Do you think he'll 
die?" 

"Certainly," my pal said. "He will be dead in 
the morning, and you will have to take the body off." 

"I never had anythin' to do with any corpses, and 
I ain't goin' to begin now," the porter said. 

The first real gyp in which I ever took an active part 
was the Three-Card Monte Gyp. All through my 
younger days I had been fascinated by the fun to be 
gotten out of fooling people. And when I slipped 
away from the ranch I always was ready for any sort 
of hell. 

When I invited my friend Bill H to come out 

84 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



from Chicago and help me clean up a few cow camps 
at cards, he stood it for a few days, and then said to 
me: 

"Frank, you're crazy. You'll die with your boots 
on within twenty-fours hours. I'm going home!" 

Many persons told me the same thing. An old 
Irishman told me once: 

"Frank, they can't kill you unless they shoot you 
wit' a silver bullet like they do the witches in Ireland." 

We used to play cards with our guns on the table. 
A man would have been killed as quick as a monkey 
if there was anything wrong. And the boys — the gyp 
boys — used to shoot morphine into themselves with 
hypodermic needles just as casually as a man smokes 
a cigarette these days. They made no bones about 
it at all. 

They used to tell me I was crazy to go into these 
cow and mining camps as I did, and take the money 
away, and I guess I was crazy. As I look back on 
it I know I was. But I didn't know any different. 
When I got my first taste of high life outside the United 
States, you'll notice I never went back to the frontier. 

But, feeling the way I did, and always figuring 
ways to kid people, it wasn't any wonder that I took 
the Three-Card Monte Gyp. It's the funniest act in 
the world to look at and I nearly died laughing when 
I first saw it. In fact, I laughed so hard that my 

85 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



pals told me I'd have to shut up or get out, as I'd 
spoil the game. 

This gyp should be seen and heard to appreciate its 
artistry. It loses a deal of its color in cold type. The 
reader should keep a picture of the figures in his 
mind to get anything like the real savor of it. 

This gyp, which, of course, was not one invented 
by me, we worked generally on railroad trains. I 
worked in it mostly out of Omaha. Sometimes the 
train crews were in with the boys; and sometimes they 
weren't. But the train crews couldn't do anything 
about it, anyhow. If they'd kicked, we would have 
taken over the train. I guess we were pretty hard 
babies. 

We used to win hats full of split second watches, 
worth anywhere from five or six hundred to a thou- 
sand dollars, at a time when a watch was a great 
treasure. And we used to give one of those watches 
to each of a favorite train crew. 

The gyp was worked by two steerers and a player. 
I was the player. The steerers got on the train, and 
each of them selected a sucker. Conversation was 
easily opened, and when a steerer decided his sucker 
had money enough to make him worth while, he'd raise 
his hat as a signal to me. 

I had gotten on the train in a linen duster and a 
hard hat. I had folded up the hard hat in the duster 

86 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



and tossed it up on a hat rack. From my pocket I 
took a soft hat, and put it on. I had a dickey, with a 
ruhber band around the neck, which when pulled 
up, dressed me so far as the eye was concerned in a 
hickory shirt. The duster had concealed a homespun 
suit, dyed with butternut, a popular form of dress 
with rubes. We used to call them "humspuns." 
With tobacco juice leaking from the corner of my 
mouth, my make-up was complete. It was a light- 
ning change make-up too. 

Take off the soft hat, pull down the dickey, slip on 
the linen duster, and put on the hard hat, and I was 
an average traveler, nothing like the gawky rube of 
an instant before. 

When I got the signal from a pal I arose from my 
inconspicuous seat and approached him and the 
sucker. Said I: 

"Any of yo' ole Yankees got a chaw of terbacker?" 

My partner looked up, as if annoyed, and sharply 
replied : 

"No!" 

"Yo' ole Yankees are mighty stingy," I'd say. 
"Down wha' Ah live when Ah asks a feller f'r a chaw 
of terbacker he gives me one." 

"Where do you live?" my partner asked. 

"Ah come f'om Kaintucky. Tha's wha' Ah was 
bawn, bred an' raised — wha' we got the prettiest gals, 

87 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



the fastest hawses and the best cawn liquoh in the 
whole worl' — Sir, by God, sir, yo' ole Yankees ain't 
got nuthin' up here — nuthin'!" 

You see the idea at the opening was to make the 
sucker so mad by my attacks on Yankees that he would 
be glad to trim me, and all through I was putting 
across my stupidity. 

"You don't seem to like the Yankees very much," 
my partner said. 

"Naw," I rejoined. "We don't like the ole Yankees. 
We fit agin' the ole Yankees in the wa'. My brother 
Zeke, he fit in the wa% an' so did Dad." 

Here, my partner whispered to the sucker: 

"Let's string this fellow along a bit; he's apparently 
a character." 

To me he would say, with sudden cordiality: 

"Sit down, Kaintucky. Sit down. What are you 
doing up here?" 

"Ah been up to Chycawga town," I'd say, sitting 
down in the opposite seat. "Dad alius sent my brother 
Bill up with the hawses to sell 'em, but Bill took sick 
with the rheumaticks an' he couldn't come. Dad said 
to Mom: 'We'll send Bud up with the hawses this 
time — ' Bud, that's my name; Ah'm Bud Alexander. 
That's me. Dad says: 'They cain't slick Bud.' 

"Becuz down wha' Ah live everybody says Ah'm 
as keen as a brier. Ah was stoppin' at that Paycific 

88 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



Tavern (Grand Pacific Hotel). That's the highest 
hotel in the whole worl'. Well, it oughter be. That 
Chycawga town is the biggest town in the whole worl'. 

"They got histin' machines there. Just put yore fin- 
ger on a button and sh'll shoot yo' up wha' yo' live. 
One of the niggers that worked that histin' machine — 
he looked like one of ouah niggers we call Eph. Ah 
used to ride up an' down with him and talk to him. 
He was like our old Eph at home, an' he tol' me he'd 
show me aroun' the town. 

"He took me up one place — a gal house (I chuckled 
here) — and the gals didn't have dresses furder down 
than this (pointing to above the knees and chuckling 
again) an' they axed five dollars for a bottle of pop. 
They don't get but five cents for pop down wha' Ah 
live, but it don't taste the same. But Ah didn't care. 
Ah got plenty money. Ah sold the hawses." (And I 
showed a big roll I was carrying in my inside coat 
pocket.) 

"Young man," my partner then said, "you shouldn't 
be showing big sums of money like that around in 
public. Some one is likely to take it away from you. 
Put it up." 

"No ole Yankee is smaht enough to take money 
away from Bud Alexander," I replied. (My hot 
Southern blood was boiling). "Eph took me into one 
place and the' were a feller there. He had some 

89 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



cyards slickin' 'em aroun' on top o' that glass snake 
box. 

"One of the cyards had an ole man on it; another 
had a' ole woman on it, and the other had a little 
boy with a hoop. And he could sneak 'em around 
so fast you couldn't tell. You had to find the little 
boy with the hoop. 

"He tole me Ah couldn't find it, an' Ah thought Ah 
could tell wha' it were. Then we just got bettin'. 
He axed me if Ah would bet three hundred dollars 
Ah could find it. Ah said Ah would, and Ah jus' 
pulled the cyard right out and put it up. But when 
Ah went to pick it up it weren't there; it were an- 
other cyard. 

"An' then he slicked 'em over again, an' Ah bet 
him three hundred dollars more, and gosh durned if 
Ah could tell it. Ah lost six hundred dollars, but Ah 
didn't keer. Ah tole him if he'd show me how to do 
it Ah'd give him three hundred dollars for the cyards, 
cuz ev'ry Satidy afternoon down at Davis's log-rollin' 
groun's we have pony racin' and hawse-shoe pitchin' 
and chicken fightin' (a regular hell of a time, you 
see). Luke Hawkins — he comes to see my sister, Sal. 
My sister Sal used to be a schoolma'am. He rides 
a purty rackin' (colloquial for pacing) hawse, Luke 
does, an' Ah'm goin' to slick him with this game out 
of thet there rackin' hawse, an' make Luke walk home 



90 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



when he comes to see Sister Sal. Ah been practisin' 
it. Ah c'n do it so fast Ah can't tell wha' it is mah- 
self. Ah got the ole cyards right here. Ah just 
bringed 'em along." 

My partner said: 

"Let's see them." 

"Oh, naw," I said. "Ah won't show 'em to yo' — ^yo' 
ole Yankees — you'd steal 'em." 

"We wouldn't steal them," my partner said. "Come 
on, Bud, let's see them." 

"Ah'll show yo' ef yo' ole Yankees won't steal 'em. 
Ah'll show yo'." (And I show the three cards cus- 
tomarily used in Three-Card Monte — ^the woman, the 
man, and the boy with the hoop.) 

"Show us here," my partner said, spreading a dus- 
ter over his knees. 

I threw the cards around clumsily face down, and 
said: 

"Now, yo' all got to find the boy with the hoop." 
"I'll bet you five dollars I can pick him out," my 
partner said. 

"Ah'll bet yo'," I said. "Put up yore money. Ah 
wouldn't trust no ole Yankee for no money, nohow. 
Put it up in yore old uncle's ban'." (The sucker al- 
ways was called "uncle" or "brother.") 

We each put up five dollars, and my partner won. 
I clumsily dropped a card, and while I stooped down 

91 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



to retrieve it, my partner reached over and turned 
up a corner on the little boy with the hoop, and showed 
it to the sucker, and whispered : 

"We'll have some fun with this fellow." 

Then he said to me: 

"I'll bet you a hundred dollars I can pick it up 
this time." 
I said to him: 
"Ah'll go yo'." 

When my partner won again, I said: 

"Say, Ah reckon as how yo've seen this hyer afore. 
Yo' all are too smaht fo' me Ah reckon. Yo' all beat 
me two times." And I started to pick up the cards. 

"My uncle will make you a bet," my partner said. 

"All right," I said. "Ah'll try him onct." 

The sucker hopped right to it, and pulled out his 
money, which we had been waiting for. 

"Ah won't play for no more chicken feed," I said. 
"Yo' ole Yankee cowards. In the wa' you was 
cowards. Ah'll bet yo' all yo' got. That's what Ah'll 
do. Put her right up there in yore kin's hands." 

The sucker put up his roll, and picked the wrong 
card. 

"Thet ain't the little boy with the hoop," I said. 
"Yo' done lost." 

I collected the bets, and added: 

"Ah'm goin' back to the bed cyar and go to sleep. 

92 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



Ah'U slick 'em aroun' for yo' all in the mawnin,' an' 
bet yo' all yo' want." (I acted as if I didn't know 
the sucker had lost all he had, or would lose.) 

Then I went, perhaps back to another car, where 
my second partner had another sucker, or perhaps 
I changed my make-up and stepped off the train at 
a wayside station, and went back to town to wait for 
my pals to join me there. 

One of my pals told me that a conductor said to 
him: 

"I understand all about that game, that the fellow 
who is acting the rube is supposed to look like a 
damned fool, but that one (pointing at me) really is 
a damned fool. Isn't he?" 

And that tickled me pink, because I was proud of 
my make-up, and proud of my acting in the Three- 
Card Monte Gyp. 



93 



CHAPTER VII 



THE FOOT-RACE GYP 

Even when I had the stable in Freeport, I had a 
certain reputation for being able to make a good 
bargain, and that is how I came to arrange the Foot- 
Race Gyp, which is a memory which makes me smile 
when I think about it. 

Parson Davis, who later was well known as a prize 
fight manager, was a friend of mine then, and re- 
mained my pal the rest of his life. At that time 
the Parson was with the great Mike McDonald in 
Chicago. He had charge of Mike's place, which Edna 
Ferber described well in her "Show Boat." There was 
a saloon downstairs, and gambling upstairs, and it 
was the headquarters for everything that was stirring 
among the boys. The Parson said to me one day: 

"Frank, I've got two boys here — ^heel and toe 
walkers — ^who are worth consideration. They never 
have raced in a match in their lives, but they are giv- 
ing exhibitions at Jerry Monroe's Summer Garden, 
and they're quite an attraction. And either one of 
them can beat the record for twenty-five miles right 

94 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



now. Why don't you take 'em, and make some money 
out of 'em?" 

It was true enough. These boys — Gus Olmstead 
and Billy Stanton — really could walk twenty-five 
miles faster than the record in the Clipper Almanac, 
the sportsmen's bible of the day. I think the title- 
holder was a man named Hoskie. 

Well, I had a legitimate business at which I was 
making plenty ^f money at the time, but the Parson 
knew my weakness for a prank, and he prevailed upon 
me. The Parson called in fhe boys, and I said to Bill, 
*'You come with me and be a stable boy.'^ To Olm- 
stead I said, "You just stay here and wait develop- 
ments; I think I have an idea." 

I took Billy with me back to Freeport, and put 
him in my stable as a hostler. 

Frank Pearsol, the Sherilf's son, was walking 
around beating everybody within a radius of a hun- 
dred miles who thought he could walk. The sporting 
crowd in town thought Frank was a world beater, that 
nothing «ould stop him. 

The sporting saloon in Freeport was run by Harry 
Buckman, Pearsol's backer. He had a bar, a big 
billiard room, and a gambling room, and was a swell 
dresser and a chap that rather fancied himself as 
pretty good. He was the baby I was after. 

One day I said to him, "Say, Harry, I got a kid over 

95 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



in my stable who wants to walk. He's got a couple 
of hundred coming to him in pay, and he wants to 
put it up. He thinks he can beat Pearsol." 

We made the match then and there for $200. 
Everybody bet on the local boy, of course. I didn't 
want to win much on this race, so by the time the big 
night came around I had down only about $2,000. 
The stakeholder was Buckman's head bartender, who 
was in with me on the deal. You have to be careful 
about those details. The terms were that the winner 
took all the bets, and two-thirds of the gate, with admis- 
sion at 25 or 50 cents, and the loser got one-third. 

The plan for this match was for my boy to make the 
pace so hot in the first few laps that he would walk 
the Sheriff's son into cramps. You see, no one thought 
of timing laps in a fifteen-mile foot race. All that 
mattered, they thought, was the total elapsed time. 

Therefore, when Billy started out walking faster 
than any human being ever could walk and be alive 
at the end of fifteen miles, and the Sheriff's son got 
the bellyache trying to keep up, no one was wise. 

I took that moment when the Sheriff's son was being 
helped off the track in Germania Hall, which had 
been made by putting up scantling and filling it in 
with tanbark, to jump on the platform, and yell: 

"Come on, Billy. Now show 'em how fast you can 
walk." 



96 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



Billy went through all the motions of making a 
new world's record, but for the total distance he took 
more time by a good margin than the Sheriff's son 
ever had. So, although we won the race, the backers 
of the Sheriff's son agreed that their man could win 
a return match without any trouble. 

But that wasn't the way we were going to get the 
money. You couldn't get real money by such a simple 
expedient as that. 

You see, we had every man in town with any sport- 
ing blood in for ten or fifteen or twenty dollars — just 
nicely hooked. We were all ready for the real thing. 
So I had a friend in Chicago get a cigar salesman's 
outfit at McDonald's. 

The first thing you know, this cigar salesman fellow 
comes to town selling cigars, and of course he can't 
help seeing those posters advertising the twenty-five 
mile walking match. So he just mentions to Buck- 
man: 

"Huh! I know a guy who can walk that twenty- 
five miles faster than anyone in the world — faster than 
the record book." 

"Who's zat?" says Buckrtian. 

So the cigar salesman gave Buckman the address 
of a pal of mine in Cincinnati. And Buckman wrote 
a letter to my pal, which was forwarded to the Par- 
son, and delivered by him to Gus Olmstead. My in- 

97 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



structions to Olmstead were to take the letter, follow 
instructions, and be careful to do everything he was 
told. 

Well, there is a little town twenty-five miles from 
Freeport, Illinois, called Oregon. The Pearsols came 
from Oregon, and had a flock of relatives there. That 
is where Olmstead was told to report. And the minute 
he showed up, they pulled out the Clipper Almanac, 
and asked him to prove that he could beat the world's 
record for twenty-five miles. 

Gus was glad to do it for them, and did so while 
they all held stop-watches on him. They were tickled 
pink. The whole town was in the know, and the 
whole town was singing, "We've got old Tarbeaux 
now." 

Gosh! But they were happy. They dressed Gus up 
in farmers' clothes, and gave him a new name, Pearsol, 
and told him he now was a cousin of the Sheriff's 
son. And then they brought him in to Buckman's 
saloon. And they had the damndest time tolling me 
in there. When I finally was seduced, they presented 
me to Gus. 

"I want you to meet my cousin from Oregon," 
Pearsol said. "This cousin thinks he can walk and 
he wants to make a match with your man." 

"Now, boys," I said, "don't do anything to me. 
Why, I don't even know whether he is your cousin 

98 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



or not. But I'll tell you what I'll do. If you'll write 
out a guarantee that he isn't Hoskie, or any of the 
other fellers in the Clipper Almanac, I may take you 
on." Of course, they knew their boy could beat all 
the champions I named, because they had seen him 
do it against time. Hell! They drew up that con- 
tract quick. So we made a match, with their boy un- 
der his false name. 

My father had a big hall in town. He always was 
accumulating real estate by his system of swapping. 
He'd swap something for the land, and then he would 
dicker with the contractor to buy the horses he needed 
from him, and then likely as not he would have the 
wood all cut and sawed which the contractor needed 
for the construction. I never knew a trader who was 
the equal of father. 

Well, I had carpenters go up to the hall and make 
a track on which my boy could train. It aroused a 
good deal of curiosity, and several young fellows tried 
to sneak in and see the workouts. 

Finally, after none of the spies had succeeded, Luke 
Guiteau, a brother of President Garfield's assassin, 
and son oi the President of the First National Bank 
(who was a partner of father's, by the way), came 
to me and said: 

"I'd like to see your boy walk." 

"All right," I said, and I took him to the hall and 

99 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



let him look. I knew he was a stool pigeon for the 
Pearsol crowd. I said to him: 

"Don't tell anybody, but my boy can walk the 
twenty-five miles in four hours and ten minutes." 

That may not have been the exact time — I've for- 
gotten that. But the idea was to tell Guiteau a time 
that was more than their boy took for the same dis- 
tance. 

Well, that was all that was needed to make the 
crowd dig up the last bettable object they owned. 
They produced their studs and their stickpins — ^we 
all wore pins in our four-in-hand ties in those days — 
and their watches. Jules Jorgensen and Patke 
Philippe were the best makes. They had a cinch. 
They couldn't lose. That's the idea of gyps, of course. 
The saps have to think they've got a sucker. 

They were kidding me a good deal, and finally they 
got me so mad in Buckman's one night, that I ex- 
claimed : 

"To hell with that two-thirds stuff. Let the winner 
take all, and the loser pay for the hall, the band and 
the rest of the expenses." 

Of course that's what they wanted. And they were 
pretty happy. They bet more money and more watches 
and stickpins, horses and buggies at even money on 
their boy. 

When the night of the big match came around, there 
100 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



was more money bet than ever before in that town. 
The word was out that old Tarbeaux was caught at 
last. And the hall was packed to see the fun. 

I told my boy, Billy, to let Gus take two laps at 
the beginning of the race. 

"I'll be busy taking their socks and shoe laces," 
I told him. 

As I've said, the stakeholder was with me, and in 
for a good cut. I never was stingy with my fellow 
workers. The only way to do business is to treat 
your partners well and be more than on the square. 
I had no use for a double crosser then, and I haven't 
now. And I had a man with a big bag to hold the 
jewelry. 

When Gus forged ahead, the crowd went wild, and 
began to offer odds. I had milked them well, but I 
wanted to milk them dry. I jumped up on the plat- 
form, and acted desperate. I took bets at two to 
one, which brought out one or two stray bills that had 
been overlooked in the excitement, and a lot more 
personal property. 

When Gus got further ahead, and they all got more 
excited I took bets at three to one, and everything 
they had. When I had everything right down to their 
shoe buttons, which was along about the seventeenth 
mile, Gus's shoe lace came untied, and bothered him. 
Of course, that was all part of the gyp. 

101 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



The crowd who'd gathered to strip me began to 
get ghastly white, and when their boy finally had to 
stop and stoop over and tie that shoelace, and my boy 
went sailing by him, boy! they were green. It was 
a great picture for a sport like me. 

My boy won the race, and I never saw anything ex- 
actly like that spectacle in all my travels. Of course, 
as I said at the beginning of this chapter, I already 
had a slight reputation for being able to rig up a good 
bargain, and some of the sportier of the losers took 
it in good part, and said: 

"Well, Frank, what're you going to fix up for us 
next?" 

Popularity of foot racing made it, for a long time, 
a favorite method of getting easy money for the wise 
boys. A man named Armstrong and Billy Forbes, of 
Woodstock, Ontario, controlled all the champion run- 
ners in America. We didn't have to know anything. 
When anyone came to one of us and said : "I've got 
$500, or $1,000 to bet on this man," all we had to 
do was take the bet. We knew one of the champion 
runners had been proving how fast he was for the 
suckers' benefit, and that he would throw the chump 
as soon as there was any wise money up. 

A sucker, I always figured, is the noblest work 
of God. 



102 



CHAPTER VIII 



THE HORSE GYP AND OTHER PRANKS OUTWITTING 

THE HARDEST MAN IN KANSAS CITY 

My mother died in 1880, after a long illness. She 
had been the only tie between me and the slightest 
pretence of earning a living by so-called respectable 
means. It was solely on her account that I kept the 
conditioning stable at Freeport. When she was buried 
it did not take me long to go to Chicago and go into 
the gyp in earnest. First it was the Horse Gyp. After 
that I worked all over the country. 

I wasn't satisfied with making a nice legitimate 
profit out of the horse business, which wasn't so legiti- 
mate after all, as some one had to get it in the neck. 
As a matter of fact, the horse-swapping business was 
in the nature of a gyp. Both parties to a trade were 
trying to get the better of the bargain, and anything 
went. 

But I had been figuring things out for some time, 
and I was pretty sure I could make a good deal more 
out of it than I had been. So I went to Chicago and 
started the Horse Gyp. 

Billy Whalen, who was Alderman of the First Ward, 

103 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



had a big saloon where all the skulduggery was 
hatched. He was shot and killed afterwards in his 
saloon. Billy owned a house on Michigan Avenue, 
which was just what I wanted. After I had everything 
arranged, which included full police protection and 
the help of a cashier in one of the biggest banks, whose 
job was to certify checks for us as fast as he could, 
I put an advertisement in the papers. It read some- 
thing as follows: 

"A Widow Lady. Will sell at a great sacri- 
fice the contents of her deceased husband's sport- 
ing stable, consisting of the fast, valuable and 
well-known road team, Orange Boy and Blossom. 
Orange Boy has trotted a mile in 2.21%, Blossom 
in 2.25, and double to pole in 2.30%. They are 
six years old and perfectly sound, beautiful dark 
bays with black points, 15.2 hands. They drive 
together like one. They will not be sold for turf 
purposes. 

"Will also dispose of trotting wagons, training 
cart, fancy blankets and harnesses. In fact, the 
complete contents of a gentleman's driving 
stable." 

The Michigan Avenue address concluded this ad, 
of which I was rather proud, and which proved itself 
to be as attractive as I had intended, not only in 
luring prospective buyers for the horses, but also in 
drawing suitors for the widow lady. 

I could tell the last mentioned gentlemen as soon 

104 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



as I saw them. They walked up, all dressed in their 
Sunday suits, with hair and mustache dyed, or hair 
well oiled over the bald spot, looking anxious and 
hopeful. I knew they didn't have any money for my 
game, but they supplied me with heaps of sport. 

When a real prospect showed up, the boy in the 
stable, who really was my pal, began the con by ex- 
plaining that the minister, brother of the widow, was 
looking after her interests, and that he wouldn't sell 
the horses if he thought they were going to be used 
for racing. The prospective purchaser usually hired 
the stable boy on the spot to drive the horses in races 
after they had been purchased from the minister. 

I was the minister, with a clean shave in a day 
when whiskers were the vogue, in a black suit like 
a priest's, and with a Bible in which was a white silk 
book mark with a gold cross plainly visible. 

When everything was ready, and the sap was all 
oiled up to slip it over on the widow lady and her 
psalm-singing brother by getting a trotting pair worth 
$10,000 or $15,000 for $2,000 or $3,000, I ap- 
peared on the scene. 

It always was easy for me to get the cash or the 
check. 

Always when the sap arrived he was told that all 
the other equipment that had been mentioned in the 
ad had been sold. There was nothing to hitch the 

105 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



precious team to, and so he had to lead them away. 

And don't think I overlooked any details. Besides 
the pair I had the most beautiful big, gray Clydesdale 
you ever saw, who looked to be worth $500 of any 
one's money, and a bargain at the price. We called 
him George. 

We sold George regularly every morning to some 
one. And one of the boys followed after George 
and his purchaser, and brought George back again 
later in the day. The moment George had on a 
collar, he was gone. He couldn't pull a feather, 
George couldn't. He was bad in the windj but he 
looked great. 

The man that bought George in the morning was 
glad to sell him an hour or two later for a gilt watch, 
or maybe twenty-five dollars. George was our over- 
head. 

Billy Whalen used to come in pretty tight every 
morning from his saloon, just as the boys were getting 
ready for the day's gyping. He used to sway a bit, 
and salute the big gray, and say: 

"Good morning, George, I see you're back again." 

And then he'd totter off to bed, laughing. Well, I 
always laughed a lot myself. But the biggest laugh 
that came out of the Horse Gyp didn't come in Chicago. 
It came in Kansas City. 

We'd always worked under protection in Chicago, 

106 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



but finally the game was run through. We'd made 
$2,000 or $3,000 a day fairly regularly, I suppose 
for a long time, and enough was enough. So my pal, 
who acted as the stable boy, and I went to Kansas 
City. 

Every big town used to have one big sporting 
saloon, which was headquarters for every one with 
any sporting instincts, and Bishop & Christy's was 
the place in Kansas City. I had to have some one to 
cash a check after I put over the gyp. I asked Bishop 
to do it. He said: 

"Frank, you can't put over that Horse Gyp business 
in this town. This is a horse town, and you can't fool 
'em." 

Well, we drank some champagne and talked it 
over, and I said all I wanted to have was his assur- 
ance to cash a check, and he said of course he'd be 
only too glad to do that. And then he said: 

"You know, Frank, there's one man I wished you 
could get, only you can't. And that's The Wolf. The 
Wolf's given me a dirty deal, and he's got something 
coming to him." 

I knew The Wolf, having met him before. His 
name was Rogers, and he was a member of the firm 
of Rogers, Kinney and Brown, as I recall it. They 
had a big stable and ran the stockyards. He was sup- 
Dosed to be one of the hardest and wisest babies in 

107 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Kansas City, or the country, for that matter. Why, 
The WoH wouldn't have bought a horse from his own 
mother without trying it out before he paid for it. 
But I just ordered another bottle of wine, and said: 

"The wiser they are, the harder they fall. If The 
Wolf shows up he'll do just as well as the next one." 

"I wish he would," Bishop said, "but he won't. 
Anyhow, you can't say I haven't warned you." 

"All you've got to do is be ready to cash a check 
tomorrow," I said. 

Buying the horses for the gyp was easy for me. I 
bought them in the stockyards at Chicago, where all 
the boys knew just what I was in the market for. I 
wanted fine looking horses of a size, without any 
blemishes. They didn't have to match in color. 

Trotting horses are different from thoroughbreds. 
Any old sort of skate might turn out to be a great 
trotter. I could tell a thoroughbred in the dark. You 
can't miss one of them. But you can't tell a trotter 
until you've tried him out. 

I used to pay twenty-five dollars apiece for the 
horses for my teams, and I had them clipped and pol- 
ished up till they shone. I didn't care if they never had 
been broken to harness. After they were doctored up I 
put two or three hundred dollars w^orth of blankets on 
them, and with the advertisement and the con to back 
them up they looked as if they were cheap at twenty 

108 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



thousands dollars with their breeding and trotting 
records. 

After I had arranged for the check, and also for a 
get-a-way by renting a parlor and bedroom on the 
outskirts of the town, I hunted for the best available 
stable. I found two dear old maiden ladies living 
on the most exclusive street in town, with a stable 
in the rear which they were glad to rent to me. 

Next morning, our ads were in the papers and we 
were ready for business. Now it was necessary to 
the success of the scheme for the prospective buyer 
not to know that merely the stable was rented. To 
be good, it had to look as if the horses were being 
sold by the actual owners of the house. 

I went to the old maids early the next morning, and 
asked them if I might sit in their front parlor, where 
a big bay window looked out on the street and the 
front walk, and also gave a view of the little side 
walk which led around back to the stable. I was in 
my minister rig, and the Bible and book marker with 
the gold cross was in evidence, and I was looking as 
smug as I could. 

"It would be rather unpleasant for me to wait in 
the stable," I said. "You can understand that, per- 
haps." 

They were very kind, and said of course I could 
sit in the parlor. But that wasn't enough. I couldn't 

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have the maid going to the door, and telling a sap that 
some people had rented the stable, and that they were 
out back now. That would never do. So, I said: 

"And I will answer the doorbell if it rings, too, if 
you don't mind." 

"Oh, the maid can attend to that," they replied. 

"Oh, no," I said. "You know what these horse 
persons are. You had better let me get them away 
from the front door as quickly as I can." 

They were agreeable to the minister. And the first 
man I saw coming up the walk early in the morning 
was The Wolf. He had driven up with his partner in 
a two-seater drawn by a pair. 

I went to the door, carrying my Bible, and told 
him to go around to the stable. 

He went around there and, when I got my cue, I 
followed him. By that time, my colleague, the stable 
boy had sold him on the idea that this pair could do 
a mile in 2.20, but that the purchaser would have to 
pretend that they never would be used for track pur- 
poses or the Reverend never would sell them. He 
also had told The Wolf that the Reverend was suffer- 
ing from the same disease that had carried off his 
sporting brother, and that he was very nervous. 

"Don't get him excited," my pal warned The Wolf, 
"or you won't get the horses." 

Well, The Wolf told me that he wanted to try them 

110 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



out first, and I had one of the nervous attacks that 
he had been warned about. 

"I trust you haven't brought me out here to this 
stable to insult me, sir," I said, shaking my head and 
rolling my eyes towards heaven. "It is hard enough 
to have to bear this cross of selling my unfortunate 
brother's racing equipment for his widow, without 
suffering further indignities." 

"Oh, that's all right. That's all right," The Wolf 
said. "Please excuse me." 

The upshot of it was that I rode down to his stable 
with The Wolf while his partner led the pair. It was 
about two miles, and I knew the led horses couldn't get 
there until I was well away. 

In his office The Wolf made one last try to be cau- 
tious. He said he would give me a check for $1,000 
then, and the balance after he had driven the horses. 
I had another nervous attack, and nearly swooned. 

"Get me water," I gasped, clutching at my throat, 
and pressing the Bible to my chest. "Water!" 

And The Wolf went to a pump, and pumped me a 
glass of water. He was so afraid he was going to lose 
the great bargain that was within his grasp that he 
had a hard job not to spill the water. And he wrote 
out the check without more ado. 

I got back to Bishop & Christy's saloon, and handed 
the check to Bishop. 

Ill 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



"Get that cashed quick," I said. 
Bishop took a look at the check, and his jaw 
idropped. 

"My God, Frank," he exclaimed, "you did it! 
The Wolf himseH! My God!" 

It looked as if he was going to stand there the rest 
of the day goggling at the check, so I told him to get 
a move on. 

"I've got to get over to the hide-out," I said. 

Bishop came back to me in a minute or two with 
the money, of which I gave him his slice, a good 
healthy bit. 

"Now," I said, "you hustle down to the track, and 
watch the fun, and then you hustle out to the hide- 
out, and let us know what happened." 

Well, two or three hours afterwards. Bishop came 
to our hide-out, and the minute he got in the door he 
ran for the bed and dived onto it, and laughed for 
five minutes so hard he couldn't talk. Finally, he 
told the story. 

By the time the pair was led down to the stable at 
the stockyards, all the bloods in Kansas City were 
there, or were arriving. They all had heard of the 
pair that The Wolf had bought. Stable boys in the 
alley next to the stable we had hired had told later 
comers that The Wolf had gone off with the pair that 

112 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



had been advertised. And the word had spread 
through horse circles. 

Ed Geers was training on the track there, and The 
Wolf borrowed Ed's racing rig, and had the pair 
hitched to it. All the sports in town, each with the 
expensive stop-watch that every sport carried in those 
days, were waiting in the stands or in the field to see 
the try-out. 

Well, there wasn't any try-out, of course. One 
horse went up in the air, and the other horse ducked 
down. And The Wolf just jumped out of the rig, and 
ran through an opening in the fence. He was ashamed 
to face the mob. 

I told Bishop to ship our luggage to Mike Mc- 
Donald's store in Chicago. McDonald's store was a 
saloon with gambling rooms, and was the headquarters 
for all the boys in Chicago. My pal and I grabbed a 
freight into Moberly, Missouri, and went from there to 
Chicago. 

The Wolf was so mad that he couldn't see. The 
newspapers were full of it. He had all the police of 
Kansas City looking for us. But it wasn't until some 
time later that one of the boys told him that he guessed 
Frank Tarbeaux must have been along that way. 
The Wolf had been one of the boys himself, and it's 
a wonder it took him so long to tumble. 

A couple of months or so after that I was drinking 

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in McDonald's with Mike himself, McGarigle, who 
was Chief of Police of Chicago, and Bill Pinkerton, 
all great friends of mine, when Chief of Police Spears, 
of Kansas City, walked in. 

After I had been introduced under another name, 
he told the story of the trimming of The Wolf, and 
said he'd love to meet the man who did it. Bill 
Pinkerton asked me if I minded being introduced 
right. Of course, I didn't. When Spears knew who I 
was, he said he would establish a big livery stable him- 
self in Kansas City, and make me a full partner with 
a half interest in it just for my services. Of course, 
I couldn't do that. I wanted excitement. 

I never could help sticking people. When I wasn't 
doing it for business, I was doing it for pleasure. I 
loved it. 

In those days the Madames of first-class fast houses 
in the different towns always had good horses and rigs 
and drove out afternoons to show the public what 
pretty girls they had in stock. One of the swankiest 
of all the Madames in the country, with the swellest 
place and the finest horses and the prettiest girls, was 
Carrie Watson in Chicago. She was as well known as 
General Grant. I used to play jokes on Carrie so 
often that her usual greeting to me was: 

"Hello, Frank, now what are you going to do to 
me?" 

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FRANK TARBEAUX 



I came up from Kentucky one time with a batch of 
horses, some of them good, and some of them not so 
good. The night I arrived there was a ball at a club 
called The Farmers' Sons and Merchants' Daughters, 
in Twenty-second Street. I led the German with 
Carrie. 

"Fve got some good horses purposely for you," I 
said. 

"Oh, Fve got so many," she said. 

"But Fm going to let you have these for what they 
cost me, and the freight," I said. "Miss Law has 
been down to the stable already and has made me a 
fine offer, but I had rather sell them to you than get 
a good profit." 

Miss Law was the daughter of a millionaire coal 
dealer, and was noted for the fine horses she owned, 
drove and showed. She was the best horsewoman 
in Chicago. If she wanted the horses, Carrie couldn't 
afford not to take them. 

"Oh, you sweetheart. Oh, you dear!" Carrie said. 

"Yes," I insisted, "you've got to have them for 
what they cost. Fm looking at this from a business 
standpoint as well as from a standpoint of friendship. 
You're famous, Carrie, and think what an advertise- 
ment it will be for Tarbeaux's stable when you are 
seen driving these beautiful horses." 

Next morning I was at the door of her house bright 

115 



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and early, with the horses, and a promissory note. 
I knew she'd had a hell of a time dancing and drink- 
ing champagne all night, and that now she would be 
wanting to be with her lover. But I roused her up. 

"Oh, Frank," she said, "I can't look at the horses 
now. How much are they?" 

"Two thousand dollars,",! said. 

"I haven't any money," she said. 

"You got plenty last night, and you always have 
plenty," I said. "And the horses are out there with 
nice halters and blankets on them." 

As a matter of fact, the halters and blankets were 
all the horses did have. 

Well, she gave me all the money she had — eight or 
nine hundred dollars, and signed the note. 

When Sunday came around, she decided to go, as 
was her custom, to her farm about ten miles outside 
the city for Sunday dinner with her lover. This was 
what I had in mind when I thought of unloading the 
horses on her in the first place. I spent plenty of 
money at Carrie's, and it was the fun I was after. 

"Let's try Frank's pair this morning," Carrie said 
to her lover. 

Well, the lover, who was a friend of mine, told me 
afterwards that they made the farm all right, but that 
the horses, who were balky, and no good in any way, 
wouldn't budge an inch on the return trip. So Carrie 

116 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



had to have a pair of farm horses hitched up. And 
she drove back behind those. 

"The black Gypsy bastard!" she said to her lover. 
"He got me again." 

Perhaps you can imagine how mad Carrie was, not 
only to have been stung, but also to have had to drive 
behind a pair of farm horses when her high steppers 
were her pride. 

Next day, Carrie went down to Mike McDonald's 
store, and sent Casey the manager for Mike. 

"Good morning, Carrie," said Mike. "What's the 
trouble?" 

"That God damned black son-of-a-bitch sold me a 
pair of horses that aren't worth two dollars," Carrie 
said. 

"That's too bad," Mike said. 

"By God," Carrie said, "there's one thing. I gave 
him $800 and a note, and I'll never pay the note." 

"What the hell did I ever do to you, Carrie?" Mike 
asked. "I cashed that note the next day." 

Next time I went down to Carrie's she kissed me 
and said: 

"Frank, what are you going to do to me now?" 

"I'm going to introduce you to a friend of mine 
who's a great sport," I said, and I introduced her to 
a pal of mine as a business man from Cincinnati. My 
pal had a fake roll, with big bills on the outside, in an 

117 



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express envelope. He also had another envelope, a 
"ringer" like the one he had showed her, only this one 
was full of toilet paper. After he had bought baskets 
of champagne, and everything in the house on the 
strength of glimpses Carrie had had of the fake roll, 
he gave her the ringer envelope to keep for him in her 
safe, and we left. 

When I was buying horses in Ohio, and selling them 
in Colorado and Wyoming, I picked up one beauti- 
ful horse with the heaves. I shipped him along with 
the bunch. Now, the heaves are like asthma, and are 
caused by timothy and clover hay — seedy feed. In 
Wyoming, that beautiful horse didn't have any heaves, 
and I sold him for $500. 

I immediately saw what a graft I had discovered. 
Horses who had the heaves in Ohio or elsewhere lost 
them in the high dry air of those Western States. I 
went right back and bought nothing but horses with 
the heaves, but otherwise sound, and sold carload after 
carload of them, getting as much as $500 for some of 
them that had been practically worthless when I got 
them. 

While I had my conditioning stable at Freeport, I 
made frequent buying trips into Kentucky and Middle 
Tennessee, where even finer horses than those of Ken- 
tucky were raised. The blue grass in Kentucky is excel- 
lent, but the grass in Middle Tennessee is even better. 

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FRANK TARBEAUX 



I might mention here that lime in the country makes 
a deal of difference in horses. Horses raised on water 
which abounds in lime have better bone, and are better 
and stronger in every way than horses raised in lime- 
less regions, or regions where lime is scanty. This 
is true also of human beings. 

Horses which haven't enough lime in their bones 
have brittle bones and small narrow hoofs. Horses 
with lime have big, wide, spreading hoofs. You can 
scoop out the hoofs of the latter with a knife. 

In every country except the United States horse 
races are up hill and down dale over greensward, and 
the horses don't wear plates. They run barefoot, with 
their hoofs cupped out. 

I've always figured that even outside of the sea 
voyage, no foreign-born and trained horse has any 
chance of winning against the same class horse in this 
country, because here the foreign horse must wear 
plates. He would pound his hoofs to pieces on the 
dirt tracks otherwise. 

That little extra weight added to the horse's unac- 
customed feet is a handicap which I don't believe he 
ever can overcome. A man notices the difference in 
walking with light shoes and with heavy boots. A 
horse is no different. 

Cards and horses. I've spent my life with both. 

Steve Maxwell's stable in Jefferson Street, Louis- 



119 



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ville, Kentucky, was one of my headquarters. I 
would rent a pair of horses and buggy from Steve, and 
drive over the Pike. Mountaineers would hold me up 
on the Pike to sell me apple- and peach-jack; they 
made this from their fruit and cheated the government 
out of the tax. It was aged and fine, and we clinched 
all sales with a round of drinks. Steve used to ask 
me where I put it all when I got back with a buggy full 
of empties. 

I've already told about my visits to Sam Black's 
stable in Cherry Street, Nashville, and to Columbia, 
middle Tennessee, where Pop Geers came from. 
Campbell Brown also had a wonderful place on the 
Pike near Columbia. 

I played cards all through that country, and bought 
horses, good and bad, and took them back to Freeport, 
and conditioned them, and sold them all over the 
country. I could write a book about this phase of my 
life alone. 

It was a wonderful time. The girls used to chew 
their snuff sticks. I think of them when some one 
makes remarks about the young women of today. But 
the girls looked pretty to me, and the whiskey felt 
good, and adventure always was beckoning around the 
next turn in the Pike. 

I had another little stunt I used to like even better. 
I loved to take a band of horses out into the country, 

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FRANK TARBEAUX 



Gypsy style, all with unseen blemishes, and none of 
them of much value, and swap one of them, and give a 
gilt watch to boot for a sound horse. The watches 
were bought in Cincinnati for five dollars in chamois 
cases. 

They used to do cruel things to horses in those 
days. They would beat balky horses half to death, 
and would build fires under them — anything to try to 
make them go. I'd plug their ears, and they'd shake 
their heads, and then go right along. Kickers were 
the same way. I'd fix up the kickers with straps, and 
get them all right. After I'd gotten a balker or a 
kicker cured, some one would whip him, and then 
he'd develop his fault all over again, and I would buy 
him back for a mere nothing. All balkers and kickers 
are high-spirited horses and require the most gentle 
handling. 

I didn't care anything about my original bunch of 
horses, except that they were good looking and didn't 
cost me much of anything. In three or four weeks I 
would be back with a band of sound horses which I 
could sell to the St. Louis or Chicago Street Car Com- 
pany for one hundred and twenty-five dollars a head. 

The way I did it was this. I'd pitch my tent, a 
rather fancy one, a mile or so outside of the county 
seat. I'd send the boys in for butter, eggs, ham and 
what not, and I would drive into the town to the livery 

121 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



stable at night, and either there or at the tavern mix 
up with the card crowd and play till three or four 
o'clock in the morning. Then I would drive back to 
camp, sleep in a hammock, and wake up and swap 
horses in the afternoon with the farmers when they 
were returning home. 

I was a regular Gypsy with horses. I swapped now 
and then with Gypsies for the fun of it, but they al- 
ways knew what they were getting and I always knew 
what I was getting. I couldn't any more get stung 
in a horse trade than an away-up expert in diamonds 
could get stung on a deal in diamonds. I was born 
with horses, of a father who understood horses as few 
human beings do. And of all the thousands of horses 
I have handled in my life no one except father and 
myself ever doctored one. 

Give me a hold of a halter in the dark, and I can 
almost tell you what is the matter with the horse at 
the other end. But you know it is one of the first rules 
of horse trading never to tell the other fellow anything 
that is the matter with his horse. He'll think he's 
slipping something over on you if he thinks you don't 
see the faults or blemishes. But if you show him 
you see the faults, and still want the horse, then he 
figures the horse must be better than he thought it was 
in the first place, or something very wrong with your 
horse. 



122 



CHAPTER IX 



WITH THE COOPER- JACKSON WAGON SHOW TAMING 

A BULO 

In 1880 and 1881 I was with the Cooper- Jackson 
Wagon Show. Ferguson, a partner in the company, 
Charlie Henderson and I, had the privileges with the 
show. We traveled in wagons, many of them 
armored, in Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Southern 
Illinois, Kentucky and Western Tennessee. We visited 
only the roughest sections, away from the railroads. 
And I can tell you it was tough going. 

Natives would ride in and shoot holes through the 
tent, and pull down the guy ropes. We traveled with 
rifles and revolvers like an army in the field. And 
we needed our armored cages, with gun holes. I 
saw many men killed and wounded in my short time 
with the circus. 

We pitched our tents often at a cross-roads, and the 
residents from a wide area rode in to see the show 
and lose their money at the wheel of fortune or at 
three-card monte, or to be short changed, or what- 
ever was the handiest way to get what they had. 

123 



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I used to play cards with the circus boys every Sun- 
day. And the best way I know to explain what hap- 
pened is to tell a little incident that occurred in New 
York only a few years ago. I met two ladies who said 
they would love to see the circus, which was then show- 
ing at Madison Square Garden. So I took them. 
Johnnie Quinn, who was with the old Cooper- Jackson 
Show, was taking tickets at the entrance. I excused 
myself from the ladies for a moment, and said: 

"Hello, Johnnie, don't you remember me?" 

Johnnie said: 

"Damn it to hell! How could I ever forget you? 
Didn't I work two summers for you with the Cooper- 
Jackson Show?" 

You see, Johnnie Quinn used to be in those Sunday 
poker games. 

I had a nice big pair of horses, and one of those 
Democrat wagons with a Negro driver, and I traveled 
with the help of Rand, McNally maps. In Arkansas, 
one time, in the Ozark mountains, we got caught in a 
big storm. We found a cabin, and got on the lee side 
of it. It was one of the sorriest apologies for a human 
being's home I ever saw. 

Nobody ever had to explain to me why the beach 
combers in Honolulu prefer their kind of life. They 
don't have to work, or wear clothes, and they spend 
most of their days lying on the sand, playing a ukelele 

124 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



with girls making wreaths of flowers to put over their 
heads, or they go sporting about in the waves. And 
at night they can listen to the trade winds in the coco- 
nut palms, or to some one singing, or they can swap 
kisses with their girls. I can understand that kind 
of life. And often I've asked myself why it isn't all 
right. Why haven't those babies found the secret of 
happiness? What is life all about, anyhow? 

Those beach boys may be looked down upon as 
an unmoral, lazy, good-for-nothing lot. And, as a 
matter of fact, they are only tramps. But they are 
clean tramps, with brown skins, and clear eyes, and 
white teeth, with a wonderful world around them and 
love ready-to-hand in most fascinating forms, with 
nothing to do except breathe peacefully till they die. 

But men like the owner of that cabin back there 
in the wilds of the Ozark mountains — a man, if you 
could call him that, with a wife and six or seven 
children living in one room in the wilderness, and liv- 
ing in dirt — I can't understand them unless they are 
sick. They must be suffering from some form of 
insanity. This man said to us that stormy night: 

"You can come in, strangers, but we can't give 
you anything to eat." 

We went in, and slept on the floor with him and 
his wife and all the kids. All they had to eat for 
breakfast was coffee made of parched corn. He had 

125 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



a gun and shot coon and possum with it. He had 
some of those Arkansas hawgs that can reach through 
an ordinary rail fence and root up the third row. He 
swapped the skins of the animals he killed for shot 
and powder, and the hawgs and a little scraggly com 
he had gave him corn pones and pork. I gave him 
two dollars, which was the first money he ever had in 
his life. 

In the Ozarks, they called money coonskins. You 
could take a beaver skin to the store and buy two 
pounds of sugar and three onions, and get two coon- 
skins and a muskrat skin in exchange. 

Which reminds me that the first overcoat I ever had 
when I was a boy was made of matched baby beaver 
skins. Those little kitten beavers had a blue-black 
pelt, almost Maltese. And after I had had the skins 
cut into squares and sewed together into a coat I was 
pretty proud of it. But those were the days when 
you could get a fine quality buffalo robe, well- 
trimmed, for a cup of molasses. No one would even 
bother to skin a rabbit, or a muskrat, or a wolf. 

In 1881, I made my first trip out of the country. 
But it only was a warming-up canter for what was to 
come. With Jack Howard, I went to Bermuda, the 
Bahamas, Cuba and the West Indies for the. winter. 
And I had a good time, met some pleasant people, 
and made considerable money playing cards. I also 

126 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



proved to myself, if I had needed proof, that I was 
a wanderer. I hadn't changed since those nights around 
the camp fires on the Trail, I had to be moving on. 

This wasn't my first experience on a ship at sea, 
however. I had gone on an old tub from Fernandina, 
Florida, to New York, after I had settled my father 
and mother on the plantation. And I shared my state- 
room with a soldier. It was very rough, and the ship 
almost rolled over. I was rather tight, and didn't 
give a damn what was going on. I was too miserable. 

But the soldier fell out of his berth, and rolled 
around on the floor with a couple of trunks and some 
other luggage, and got all banged up. The first I knew 
about it I was taken under arrest to the Captain. 

"He beat me up," the soldier said, pointing to me. 

Well, I was feeling pretty low, but when I under- 
stood what had happened I had to laugh. I finally 
made it clear to the captain that it was the luggage 
that had banged up the soldier, and I came out of it 
all right. I was glad the luggage hadn't beaten the 
soldier to death. 

After I got back from my first taste of the tropics, 
a zone of the world which I have loved ever since, I 
went back again to Hot Springs, Arkansas, with Frank 
Flynn and his brother, Billy. And we had plenty of 
action in the feuds with Major Doran. 

That same year I went down into Texas, and became 

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THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



acquainted, and did business, with the Earp boys, 
Verge and Wyatt. I also knew Luke Short well. 
Luke kept the White Elephant saloon with a man 
named McLain, in Fort Worth. And it was there that 
Luke killed Jim Courtright, the City Marshal. After- 
wards, in Tombstone, Arizona, Luke killed Charlie 
Storms, the gambler. 

One of the gunfights I had myself was in Tomb- 
stone. The other fellow took offense at my attentions 
to his lady love, a beauty. I was walking with the 
girl one day when he saw me and reached for his gun. 
He got me in the left arm, but I pushed the girl to one 
side, and got him through the chest. My bullet 
knocked him down, but he didn't die. 

In 1883 I bought six race horses in New York, and 
took them to South America and raced them a season. 
But conditions didn't suit me. I went over to Chile, 
Santiago, and then along the coast to Mexico, and up 
to Mexico City. I remained there several months, 
and finally bought some horses, and with three other 
adventurers, rode back into Texas. 

The following year I was in Sidney, Nebraska, 
when my pal at that time became very ill. I got him 
into the Garrison Hospital, and I decided I needed a 
rest myself. So I went over to Moore's Ranch, owned 
by a nephew of mine, at Clark's Bridge, on the Dead- 
wood Road on the North Platte River. 

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FRANK TARBEAUX 



My visit was enlivened at first by news that Joel 
Collins, a famous train-robber, had just killed a young 
clerk at the ranch also named Collins, but no relation. 
The dead boy had come out to the West from Roches- 
ter, New York. 

The cowboys used to go back to Texas over the 
Deadwood Road, and I won a lot of money from them, 
as well as horses, saddles, revolvers, spurs, and any- 
thing else of any value that they had. Well, some of 
them got pretty mad about it, and they came back one 
night to shoot up the ranch. 

Of course, as everyone acquainted with that period 
knows, those ranch houses were built of sod. You 
could have driven a wagon around the top of a ranch 
wall. Even the corrals were sod. There wasn't a 
bullet made that had any chance of going through the 
sides of those ranch houses. But they could enter by 
the windows and doors. 

Four of us were just sitting around drinking and 
talking when the first bullet came through a window. 
Then we heard more guns go off, and more bullets 
whistle past. But by that time we were in darkness, 
because the minute we knew some one was shooting at 
us, we shot out the coal oil lamps. We shot them out 
a whole lot faster than it takes to tell it. 

And we hardly had put out the lights than we were 
outside the ranch house with our rifles. Revolvers are 



129 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



all right for close quarters, but you need a rifle for 
fighting Winchesters. 

We kept still, until we had slipped around in back 
and flanked the cowboys, who were still shooting at 
the empty ranch house. Then we began to pepper 
them with lead. They didn't know the ground, and we 
did. We had changed their surprise for us into a sur- 
prise for them. 

It took us about an hour to drive them into the 
Platte River. None of us had a scratch, but two of 
them were shot up a bit. The range was between 
fifty and one hundred yards, and I was pretty good 
with a Winchester at that distance. And so were my 
pals. We all had to be able to use firearms, as our 
lives depended on it. 

After that episode I decided I had rested enough, 
and so from the ranch I went into Sidney, Nebraska, 

and sold my horses. Then I joined Bill H , and 

we went to Cheyenne and Denver, and from there to 
Salt Lake, Cottonwood Canyon, and Bingham Canyon. 

Bill wasn't used to the mining camps, and their 
ways, and he was mightily surprised to see women 
gambling. There was one woman who dealt faro 
bank. She was Madame Mustache. Of course, she 
had a guard who sat with her, but she knew how to 
deal, and call the plays. Bill wasn't going to play in 
any games with women in them, but I told him in that 

130 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



country he would have to play with women, or not 
play at all. 

It was in Salt Lake City in this year that I had a 
little run-in with Tom Grady. I was rather smartly 
dressed, as you may have gathered, at all times. Now, 
I was having my clothes made by Bell in New York, 
and I rather fancied myself as a Beau Brummel. I 
would have looked rather smart on Fifth Avenue. 

George Morgan, of Chin & Morgan, the horse 
dealers, had a gambling house over Barr's Saloon, 
in Main Street in Salk Lake. I was in the saloon one 
evening when Tom Grady commented impolitely about 
my attire. He thought I was a dude from the East. 
And, so far as externals were concerned, I was. I 
had the best of everything. 

I let his remarks about my clothes go unnoticed, 
but when he asked everybody in the place except me 
to take a drink, I had to do something. Tom was a 
tough baby. He had killed eight or ten men, and 
was the best known killer in that locality. Every one 
was afraid of him. 

The way I was brought up, and the way he was 
brought up, he might just as well have spit in my eye, 
as leave me out of the invitation to have a drink. He 
said: "What the hell are you doing around here, you 
dirty dude?" 

The bartender was the only man in the place who 

131 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



knew me from the early days. He had known me in 
the mining camps. I walked over to the bar, next to 
Tom, and said: 

"Give me a drink." 

The bartender put out a glass and a bottle, and I 
filled the glass. I picked up the glass and dashed it 
in Tom's kisser, and at the same time I pulled old 
Betsey from her shoulder holster, and banged him 
over the head with her, knocking him kicking along 
the floor. 

I threw the big forty-five down on him and said: 
"Now, you God-damned murderer, pull your gun, 
and fight." 

"I ain't got a gun," he said. 

"You're a lying bastard," I said. "But get up and 
get out of here now, and if you come back, come with 
a gun." 

Tom Grady got up, and got out, and some one said: 
"My God! He'll kill that dude!" 
The bartender said : 

"Grady'll never come back. This ain't no dude, 
boys. This is Frank Tarbeaux." 

They hoisted me up on their shoulders then, and 
carried me around singing and cheering. Grady 
never came back, and I had quite a reputation as the 
man that drove him out of town. I guess there was no 
question that I did. 

132 



CHAPTER X 



MADAME MUSTACHE — GAMBLING FOR REAL MONEY — 
A KNIFE FIGHT 

Bill H was surprised when he saw women 

gambling with the men in those Western mining camps. 
As a matter of fact, however, it is the playing by- 
women that makes all popular gambling resorts. 

Take the case of the Bradley boys, Ed and John, 
two of the finest chaps on earth, when they opened 
their place at Palm Beach, which today is the best 
managed and the finest gambling casino in the world. 
Of course, the buildings are not so grand as they are 
in Europe, but it is a square and fair place: no foul 
words, or a thing crooked is permitted. John has re- 
tired; Ed is the sole owner, and I guess he will quit 
soon, to live on his fine breeding farm in Kentucky. 

They weren't doing so well, when one day a man 
and two women drove up. They sat on the verandah 
and ordered a bottle of champagne. After they drank 
that they bought another bottle. Then, one of the 
women asked: 

"Can women play?" 

"Certainly," was the reply, although until then 

133 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



women had never been allowed in gambling houses in 
America. 

The party went inside, and in a short time lost $15,- 
000. They gave a check for the amount. And the 
check was good. That really was the beginning of 
great fortune for the Bradleys. 

Any place you go, French Lick, Monte Carlo, Os- 
tend, Aix les Bains, Deauville, Biarritz, the women 
are playing and paying. And they are wild about 
systems. Of course, it is a mathematical fact that no 
system can be built to get around the zero. The per- 
centage always must be in favor of the bank. In 
Monte Carlo, as is well known, there is one zero in 
roulette, and here there are two zeros. 

I had a partner once who was a great joker. He 
used to sit in the casino garden at Monte Carlo with a 
sbeet of paper and a pencil. And he would mark 
figures down on the paper, and then scowl and scratch 
his head. Finally, he would smile happily. We used 
to get a lot of fun out of the people, mostly women, 
who would sneak up behind him, to peep over his 
shoulder at his system. 

He once took one of the women home, and she woke 
up in the middle of the night, and asked him: 

"How about that system?" 

Fve played all kinds of games in every place that 
gambling games are played everywhere in the world, 

134 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



but except for the pure fun of it for the moment, I've 
never bucked a casino, at Monte Carlo or anywhere 
else. Those places are all right for people who have 
money, and who can afford the sport, but they are 
terrible places for any one who expects to make 
money. Of course for a professional gambler like 
myself they would be foolish places to spend my time. 
I gamble only to make money. I don't think I have 
any of the so-called gambling instinct. 

I'm like the guy that plays the big bass viol in the 
orchestra, who comes home at 3 or 4 o'clock in the 
morning, and his wife asks him to play a little tune, 
and he says, "Go to hell." I feel that way about cards. 
They're my business, not my pleasure. 

To hear the stories about me you'd think I always 
played poker. I played everything, baccarat, trente 
et quarante, coon can, casino, seven up. I don't like 
bridge, because it's a game of partners, and you have 
to depend on some one else's skill besides your own. 
I like to rely on myself in a card game. 

Of course, the most colorful gambling episodes of 
my career were in the old Wild West. They started 
around the camp fires on the Trail when I was a mere 
lad, continued with the different army commands 
when I played with the officers, also as a lad, and 
went on through the mining camps, and all the towns 

135 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



in the United States and Mexico, where men played 
for big stakes. 

In a mining camp we played for the raw gold. They 
had a little scale on the bar, and when a miner came 
in he would buy his checks with gold dust. He car- 
ried the dust in an elkskin poke. The bartender 
would weigh out the dust in the scales, like jeweler's 
scales, and perhaps give him $200 worth of checks 
to play at Table No. 2, or Table No. 3, as the case 
might be. 

When a band of cowboys came in and sold their 
cattle, or a group of miners came in with dust, we 
would sit up night and day spelling each other until 
we had cleaned them out. If we hadn't done it some 
one else would. They were bound to lose their money. 
I never put a shovel to the ground during all those 
mining fevers, and I saw them all except the great 
gold rush of '49. And I wasn't born then. 

There was no set game and no set stakes. A man 
might say, "I'll play you a game of coon-can," or "I'll 
play you a game of euchre — or take a bank of Spanish 
monte, or Mexican monte." 

The country was very Spanish, and those Spanish 
and Mexican games were very much in vogue in the 
early days. In the West we didn't have any dice, and 
while I know the percentages of dice, I never play 
them. I leave them to the experts. 

136 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



All our games were not with saps. Men who would 
accumulate money playing with saps would get to- 
gether and play hard cards. The chances of making 
money were slimmer, but you might be a little luckier 
than the rest, or a better player. Those were tough 
games among the experts. 

One big game was in the Palace Hotel in San Fran- 
cisco. "Lucky" Baldwin owned the Baldwin hotel 
and played in the game. Another player was a man 
named Rolston, a banker, who lived in a beautiful 
place two hundred miles down the coast from 'Frisco. 
One night he walked into the sea as far as he could, 
and was drowned. 

Poker was the national game. There were big, 
set games here and there over the country. There was 
one at Helena, Montana ; one at Spokane, Washington, 
during the Coeur de Lion Mines rush and others in 
several different booms, games at the White Elephant 
in Fort Worth, Texas, and in Chicago. Salt Lake City 
had a big game, and Reno, Nevada, had one for years. 
There were gambling houses all over the West, but 
they didn't all have big games. 

I've mentioned Madame Mustache, who was one of 
the most noted dealers. She was a French-Canadian, 
and operated in the Black Hills, and in Leadville. 
She certainly knew her pay and take. 

There was no place like the West in this country 

137 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



ever anywhere. They used to say in boom times that 
the servant girls wore sealskins, and that is hardly an 
exaggeration. You'd be in a prosperous little mining 
town, with its saloons, and variety shows, with the 
gold dust flying around, and presents being tossed up 
to the girls on the stage, and someone would come in 
with news of a strike somewhere else, and off every- 
one would go. The town would be deserted in a 
few hours. 

Stanley, the explorer, was one of the boys I met 
out there. He was a penny-a-liner on the "Omaha Bee." 
I saw him later in Cairo, after he came out of Africa 
on his hunt for Livingstone. I am informed that 
James Gordon Bennett, whom I also knew well later in 
Paris, thought that Stanley was rather up-stage when 
he got back to New York, and thought to take him 
down a peg or two by sending him to do the police 
news for the old "New York Herald." 

All the members of twenty-five different mobs I 
was with were killed in those frontier years, which 
will give you some idea of the cheapness of life, and 
the chances a man was taking living there. 

One day, at Plumb Creek, Nebraska, the Indians 
pulled the rails off the railway and threw the en- 
gineer and the fireman of a train into their own fire- 
box. They had armored cars, and section hands riding 
on handcars took better care of their rifles than 



138 



FRANK TARBEAUX 

they did of their crowbars and pick-axes. Everybody 
was heeled. We had to be. 

I'd like to mention that among other things that 
were different in the days I am talking about was the 
air. There wasn't any irrigation and agriculture then, 
and you could see a hundred miles if you were on a 
raised piece of ground. 

This fine dry air in the high country of Colorado 
early attracted the lungers. And in our ranching days 
it was usual for us to ask when we were in town if 
any consumptives wanted to go along back to the 
ranch with us. We were glad to have them at first. 

But they turned out to be an awful nervous lot, 
in many instances, and likely to be even quicker to 
take offense than we who were bred-in-the-West hot- 
heads. They'd shoot for no reason at all. We were 
afraid of them ourselves. We couldn't tell when 
trouble might begin with them. 

We had no light except that furnished by fires 
either out-of-doors or in the fire-places, and by a twist 
of rag in skunk's oil. Even now-a-days abroad in the 
country districts they get their light similarly from 
olive oil, a bit of string pulled through a floating cork 
serving as a wick. Later, we had coal oil lamps, and 
candles. 

I mentioned before that we suffered from constipa- 
tion because of our diet of beef and beans, flapjacks 

139 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



and everything fried in grease. But it would be wrong 
to think that we lived that way all the time. We had 
an abundance of game. I wish we had now the deer, 
bear, red heads, canvas backs, antelopes, buffalo 
quarters, and other game that we had then. 

I've already said that the only two things forbidden 
were shooting a man in the back, and horse stealing. 
They hanged a man in short order for horse stealing. 
Although we owned lots of horses, and I always had 
plenty of money, and horses were cheap, I don't mind 
saying now that I stole a few. 

Once or twice, I took them because I was in such a 
hurry to leave one place to get to the next that I didn't 
have time to ask the owner's permission, and other 
times I took them for the devilment. Others took them 
from us. It's the same principle that a boy, who has 
plenty of melons in his home patch, or more apples 
than the family can use in his own orchard, will steal 
from the neighbors. It was just high spirits. I felt 
I had gotten away with something. And when I saw 
poor devils hanging from trees or telegraph poles for 
horse stealing, I felt perhaps I had gotten away with 
a whole lot. 

It would be about as interesting to write about steal- 
ing horses, as it would be to write about stealing pota- 
toes. Except for the greater risk run I don't think it 
was any more thrilling. 

140 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



About the only knife fight I ever had that was worth 
thinking about took place in Virginia City. My left 
hand is marked up a bit where I took hold of the other 
fellow's knife, and he didn't live to argue with me 
when I said I was a better man. But I don't like to 
talk about the fights. It sounds like boasting. It's 
sort of obvious who won the fights between me and the 
other fellows, because I'm still here. And besides, 
the fights were so damned crazy. I don't know now 
what we were fighting about, and I don't think even 
then we knew. 

Four of the grubstakers I knew in Virginia City 
were John Mackey, Jim Fair, and Flood and O'Brien. 
They made millions as every one knows, and their 
descendants are in Social Registers today. They 
equipped on shares the pick and shovel boys who 
went out every spring with their mules, frying pans, 
colfee pots, and picks and shovels to look for gold. 
And it was in Virginia City that I slept once in the 
same cabin with Bret Harte and Mark Twain. 



141 



CHAPTER XI 



GUEST OF THE KING OF HAWAII HIGH LIFE IN THE 

SOUTH SEAS A BIT OF ROMANCE 

One of the most romantic and interesting episodes 
of my life began prosaically enough in San Francisco 
in 1884 when George Morgan, of the firm of Chinn 
& Morgan, racing men, of Harrodsburgh, Kentucky, 
introduced me to the late James B. Haggin. 

Haggin, who was a great character, and a great 
accumulator of money, was one of the original Copper 
Kings, and he had a large breeding farm in California. 
He was a Mohammedan, and he wouldn't have hog 
fat on his table. In fact, he had his food prepared 
separately, and according to the strict Mohammedan 
custom. 

In the course of conversation I said that I was going 
to Australia. Haggin had been reading the Australian 
stud books, which are models of their kind, and he 
said there were two stallions which he was eager to get 
if they were sound. He said that if I would pass on 
them favorably he would buy them. 

Of course I was glad to do him this favor, and 

142 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



ultimately he purchased both stallions on my written 
report. One was Dariban, from the New Zealand 
Company's breeding farm at EUersle, six miles from 
Auckland ; and the other was Sir Moderate, the prop- 
erty of Sir Daniel Cooper, of Sidney, New South 
Wales. They were the first Australian horses ever 
shipped to America, and it took a long time to con- 
summate the deal by letter. There were no cables 
then, and it took a month each way by ship. 

Both stallions were great successes at stud, produc- 
ing many grand colts, and Haggin was well pleased 
with his bargain, and my share in it. And I was well 
pleased also. Haggin had given me letters of intro- 
duction to several prominent mining men in Australia. 
And those letters were valuable to me. 

Before I go on with the narrative I would like to 
say that Haggin, who died at ninety-five, bought a big 
square in the Kentucky Blue Grass near Lexington. 
One farmer held out a parcel of land which spoiled 
the perfect rectangle Haggin was after. When the 
farmer proved obdurate, Haggin, who was about 
ninety, asked: "How old is he?" 

"Sixty-five," he was told. 

"All right," Haggin said. "God damn it, I'll wait 
till he dies." 

When I arrived in Honolulu I went to the Hotel 
Hawaiian which was the best hotel then. I hadn't 

143 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



been there a week before I struck up a great friend- 
ship with Sam Parker. Sam was six feet two, or 
more, a handsome figure of a man, and a most charm- 
ing and talented one. 

Sam was a relative of the Parkers, of Boston, and 
a cousin of King Kalakaua of Hawaii. The way a 
good many Hawaiians are related to families in the 
United States is easy to explain. Fleets of whalers 
used to sail out there, taking three or four years for 
the trip. Hot young bloods of good families were sent 
on a whaling trip to give them a little time to cool. 
When the ship stopped in Hawaii to refit and rest after 
the trip around the Horn, a young blood might prefer 
marrying a native Hawaiian girl in the native fashion 
to whale hunting. And I am one of those who consider 
that the Hawaiians hold second place to no race for 
physical beauty and charm. They think they are de- 
scendants of the inhabitants of the lost Atlantis. 

Sam and I got to be pals. We rode together, and 
we played cards together, and within a very short time 
Sam introduced me to his cousin, the King, and the 
King invited me to his palace as his guest. 

The King was a great fellow. He dressed like a 
Piccadilly dude, and spoke English better than I did. 
He was a fine man, a hell of a sport, and a hell of a 
boozer, a patron of the arts, and devoted to music, a 
weakness I shared with him. 



144 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



He had what was considered then by every one to 
be the finest band in the world — the Royal Band of 
Hawaii. (And he had what I considered to be the 
finest harem in the world — ^the Royal Girls in their 
little houses on Waikiki Beach. There were ten or 
fifteen bungalows, each with bed room, sitting room 
and bath, and two or three matrons to look after 
things.) 

Just the other day I read an Associated Press des- 
patch that Henri Berger, the wonderful leader of that 
wonderful band, had died of pneumonia at the age of 
eighty-five. Berger, whom I knew most intimately, 
was sent to Hawaii by Emperor Wilhelm, at the re- 
quest of King Kamehameha V, in 1872. 

It was one of the great spectacles of the world, that 
band with Berger directing. Berger is the man who 
made Hawaiian music popular the world over. It 
was popular with me the moment I first heard it. 

We used to go down to the beach evenings, the 
King, and Sam Parker, and I, and other guests. And 
there would be baskets of champagne, and the surf, 
and the trade winds in the palm trees, and the King's 
stringed orchestra, which was separate from, and more 
personal than, the big band — and the girls. 

I have seen dances all over the world, in every 
country, and under the best, non-tourist conditions. 
And it is a pleasure for me to go on record here as 

145 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



asserting that the hula-hula, danced as it should be 
danced by native Hawaiian girls, is the most marvelous 
and most wickedly and delightfully provocative dance 
in the world. And they used to shake a leg for the 
King — and everything else shakeable too. 

They wiggled right up and handed you this It you 
hear about these days — on a platter, a natural platter. 

I've been to Waikiki Beach since, and it isn't the 
same. It was different when the King had his Royal 
Girls there, and his stringed band, and the baskets of 
champagne. I'm a sinner, I guess, for I liked it 
better the other way. 

We used to get up in the morning at the Palace 
after a night at Waikiki, and have our breakfast on 
the verandah. We had menu cards with the program 
of the Royal Band on one side. And we would sit 
there and eat and drink, and listen to Henri Berger 
make those boys play. 

When a warship would arrive from any country 
the King would give the officers and crew a Lua party 
in the Royal Boat House. This was a pavilion-like 
structure on a pier which ran a half-mile or so out 
from the beach. It was only one story high, but it 
was commodious and had a good floor for dancing. 

All the food was laid out in ferns. The poi, made 
from taro root, was in calabash bowls. There was 
one-finger poi, and two-finger poi, and raw fish and 

146 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



live shrimp. But at every place or two there was a 
bottle of champagne and a plate of biscuits. You 
could see how the Hawaiians ate originally, that is, 
in their natural state. Champagne and biscuits were 
provided for the guests who generally prefer to be 
spectators of rather than participants in this meal of 
raw fish and poi. 

Sam Parker and I used to go to the opera. I al- 
ways have loved music, and for many years made it a 
practice to be at the Scala in Milan during the season. 
Opera companies on tour from England and the 
United States made it a practice to stop in Hawaii. 
Sam would say to me on these occasions: 

"Which of the girls will we invite out to the 
Palace?" 

And I used to say: 

"Oh, let's invite the whole bally lot." 

And we would. It was great having a King to do 
the entertaining, and a Palace to do the entertaining 
in. It made the girl question a fairly simple one, al- 
though I'm not saying it ever was very difficult. The 
King didn't know what money was for except to spend. 

Then they gave luas for me on different islands. 
We were away three or four weeks having luas. 
But, finally, I decided I would be moving on. I never 
had had such a wonderful time in my life. 

Billy Irwin, head of the Spreckles Steamship Line, 

147 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Billy Cornwell, the McFarlanes, and others of the 
wealthy men of the island all were my friends, and 
they all entertained me, and I entertained them, and 
we played cards. 

When I was about to sail on the steamship Alameda, 
Billy Irwin told me that he had just been married to 
Glaus Spreckles ; he meant by that old Glaus had made 
him a partner, which meant a fortune, and invited me 
over to his home. And we had a party there. Then just 
before I sailed the King gave me a farewell dinner 
that was a real blow-out, and so I gave a champagne 
supper aboard ship to the King and all the crowd. 

We were all garlanded with leis, and the cabin was 
full of flowers. And everybody was happy and yet 
rather sad. I had never had such a good time, but the 
urge to keep going and see the world was too power- 
ful. I had got the itch to travel around those camp 
fires. I had to be on the wing. 

The King was his usual charming, sophisticated 
self during the evening. I forgot to say that he never 
played cards, but that he apparently enjoyed my so- 
ciety very much. On the other hand, he, Sam Parker, 
and all the other Hawaiians had no use for old Glaus 
Spreckles, the sugar king, whose business manage- 
ment was turning the islands into a plantation, and 
whose steamships were bringing Hawaii nearer to the 
workaday world. 

148 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



I'll never forget the look on Sam Parker's face one 
day when old Glaus told him that he guessed before 
long the Sam Parker land, then fat with cattle, would 
be growing sugar. 

"It'll have to come," Glaus said. 

"You'll never do it with my land," said Sam 
Parker. 

Well, we sang "Ghampagne Gharlie," "When You 
Are Away, Don't Forget Your MoUie Darling," and 
the King was the last of my guests to go down the 
gangplank, and he walked to the head of it with his 
arm around my shoulders. And the last words that 
he ever said to me were: 

"Frank, you know how sorry I am that you are 
going. There's only one regret I have over your visit, 
and that is that you didn't take that old Glaus 
Spreckles before you went." 

That staggered me. It was the first I knew that the 
King was wise to the fact that I was a card player. 
He never had let the slightest hint drop during all 
those months that he knew I was winning considerable 
sums of money with remarkable consistency. But he 
was sorry I hadn't taken old Glaus Spreckles. He 
was a great chap, was King Kalakaua, of Hawaii. 

Sir Gilbert Parker made a lot in his book of an 
aifair I had with a girl he called Alice Rahlo, whom I 
met on the steamship Alameda, on the way from 

149 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Hawaii to Australia. Parker didn't write his book 
until about forty-five years after the incidents oc- 
curred, and he interwove a deal of fiction with a little 
fact, which was his privilege. 

He thought, according to his book, that the first 
time he met me was on a train in the West in the 
early days. As a matter of fact, the first meeting with 
him was on the Alameda. He saw a great romance be- 
tween Alice and me, when the truth is that we had an 
affair, but one that was in no way different from af- 
fairs I was having with a half-dozen other girls at the 
same time. 

To get an idea of the situation, it should be borne 
in mind that Parker at that time was just a cub re- 
porter — a callow youth. I had come aboard the ship 
under amazing circumstances. The King of Hawaii 
and almost all the big men of the island were seeing 
me off at a great party. And, besides that, I had 
beautiful clothes to enhance the glamor. 

Parker was a nobody at that time, and naturally 
I was the greatest single attraction on the ship. Every 
one wanted to know who the friend of the King was. 
And every one wanted to talk to him. I was very 
popular, as a natural result of these circumstances. 

It's my opinion that Parker didn't even see the 
King. At least, Parker's description of him is ridicu- 
lous. The King, as I have said, was a splendid, hand- 

150 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



some, upstanding man, ciad in the height of fashion, 
in evening clothes, and all the trimmings. He couldn't 
have asked me to please give him back any money I 
had won, because, as I have said, the King never 
gambled. 

And Parker, in looking back through the years, has 
seen other things that didn't happen. He moralized 
to me a great deal in his writing, but he never mor- 
alized to me in life. 

The girl, Alice, as he called her, was accompanied 
by her mother, two brothers and a little sister. I was 
a great hero to them all. And Alice and I were very 
fond of each other, and had an affair that lasted dur- 
ing the voyage, and a short time afterwards. 

The most interesting incident of the voyage to my 
mind is one which Parker either knew nothing about, 
or which he forgot. Among the passengers was a 
lawyer named Marks, who was on his way from Samoa 
to New Zealand on some business of the British Gov- 
ernment. Marks was the loudest talker, the best in- 
formed, and the most opinionated man on the ship. 
Every one was bored to death with him. 

Another passenger was a man named Morgan. 
Morgan had gone to his cabin to get something from 
his bag. His revolver fell out and exploded, and shot 
him in the foot; so he was confined to his berth. I 
used to spend a good bit of time with him. 

151 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Morgan was an expert at shooting birdshot from 
between his teeth. If you've ever seen the trick you 
know with what startling force the bird shot hits, and 
what a strange sensation it is. You feel a thrill when 
the shot hits, that's something like a tiny electric shock. 
You don't see or hear anything. The shot is so small 
that you don't see it or hear it when it falls. One day I 
said to Morgan : 

*'Let's bring that noisy Marks in here." 

So Marks was brought in on the excuse that he 
would cheer up the invalid, and a good many of the 
other passengers came in too. Alice was there, and 
some of the other girls. They all were wise. Marks 
was the only dumbbell. 

As soon as Marks went in and sat down, Morgan 
let him have a shot. I said instantly: 

"What is that strange sensation I feel?" 

Marks, a perfect sap, promptly took the play, and 
started a learned lecture on the fact that strange elec- 
trical phenomena were to be observed in certain lati- 
tudes and longitudes. I didn't understand him any 
better than I understand Einstein's Theory, but he 
was good. When he stopped for breath, I said : 

"How do you think it would be if we all held 
hands?" 

After we all had clasped hands, Morgan gave him 
another shot in the face. Of course, he thought we 

152 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



all were feeling the same tingling sensation, and he 
got even better with his instructive talk. 

I thought that was the most amusing and interesting 
incident that happened on the trip. When we got to 
Australia, Alice's father and his friends got me into 
a friendly card game, and it was my opinion that 
they were trying to take me for a sap. You see, the 
trouble with them was that they didn't know who I 
was. When I took them instead, they were rather 
angry with me and, I understand, said some unkind 
things. 

When Parker talked about them signalling to each 
other, and me catching them at it, however, he was 
demonstrating that he is perfectly innocent of any 
knowledge of cards. It was in this connection, also, 
that he says I told him my ability to read cards as 
they were dealt. I never told any one what I know 
about cards because I couldn't. A knowledge of 
cards is gained by study and experience. If a man 
has a gift that way, he may turn into a real card 
player. 

Parker also in his book relates that afterwards the 
girl married, and that she was kissing me farewell — 
just one last kiss in her suite in a hotel — ^when her 
husband returned unexpectedly, saw the perfectly 
chaste gesture, and fell dead. That didn't happen 
either. 



153 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



I'm not trying to spoil anything that Sir Gilbert 
Parker wrote in his book, which is his affair, but I 
thought perhaps there might be someone who had read 
his book who might read this one of mine, and wonder 
why I left out so much romance. 

It's my belief that I never hurt a woman in my life 
— ^that is, gave any woman any lasting hurt. I've 
had many affairs with many women all around the 
world, but I don't believe any of them ever were any 
the worse for the adventure. 

I had three women drinking and weeping over me 
on one occasion in one of my London houses. They 
would cry and tell me how terrible I was to be imtrue 
to them, and then take another drink. Now and then 
one of them would say: 

"Damn you, Frank." 

One mistress I had in London was rather mean to 
me one night, I thought, and so I got out of the cab, 
and gave the driver the address of the dog home in 
Battersy. Next time I saw her she said: 

"Damn you, Frank." 

Another mistress I had used to like to drive a 
fine horse I gave her. I saw her coming down the 
street in fine style one day. I began to limp as if I 
were in pain and gave the bobby at that point a shil- 
ling to hold up the traffic. He stuck up his hand, and 
the lady had to pull her high-stepper up on his hind 



154 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



legs. I raised my silk hat and grinned at her. And 
she said: 

"Damn you, Frank." 

I had a heap of fun with the ladies, baronesses, 
princesses, actresses, and other lovely creatures, and 
I've been damned by them many times, and wept over 
once in a while, but neither Alice nor any of the others 
would be imfriendly, I think, if we should meet. 

I love women, kiddies and animals, and I couldn't 
be mean to them. My mother was my particular 
adoration as long as she lived. Women have been 
wonderful to me. And I think they are wonderful. 



155 



CHAPTER XII 



AUSTRALIA — SECOND FOR THE MELBOURNE CUP — 

"pasha" and the QUEER WIN THE SHEFFIELD 

HANDICAP GYP 

One of the enjoyments I get out of life now is hear- 
ing people tell stories about Frank Tarbeaux, when 
they don't know who I am. I had a fine time not long 
ago when a friend of mine took me to hear an old vet 
in Cleveland tell how that fellow Tarbeaux used to 
gyp people in horse trades fifty years ago. 

The old vet had his facts slightly mixed, but he was 
right in the main. And, naturally, it pleased me when 
he concluded by saying: 

"There was some that thought they were pretty 
slick, but those were the kind that were easy for that 
fellow Tarbeaux." 

And I still hear about my exploits in Australia. 
Every now and then I meet one of the Australian boys 
who has become an adventurer who has said to me: 

"If it hadn't been for the wonderful tales I heard 
about you I probably would be back on the old sheep 
or cattle station with the family in Australia." 

I guess I have a lot to be responsible for if I in- 

156 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



fluenced these young men to leave their homes and go 
a-wandering. But somehow or other it doesn't bother 
me. I still am able to fall asleep while my head is on 
the way to the pillow. 

But I did have a wonderful time in Australia on 
that first visit, and I remained there three years. I 
have never since seen anywhere in the world the equal 
distribution of wealth which prevailed in the early 
'80's in Australia. By that I mean equality in income 
and fortune. Walk down the street, and everyone on 
it, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker 
was worth twenty thousand pounds or more. 

As soon as business closed, and almost all closed 
at noon, fifty or seventy-five thousand men with 
money, and their families, every resident, went to the 
resorts. Trolleys were packed with humanity bound 
for football, lacrosse or the sprinting races or the boat 
races on the Parametta River, where the Australians 
beat everyone from all countries on the globe. 

The country was wealthy with money divided with 
rare equality; it was a rich, beautiful, and inspiring 
place to live. 

And there was no more beautiful spot in the world 
than the Sir Joseph Banks Hotel at Botany Bay, where 
I lived for most of the three years I remained in the 
country on my first visit. The hotel was managed by 
Mrs. Frank Smith. Smith himself had three shows in 



157 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



town — a vaudeville house, a dramatic house, and a 
public house in the Haymarket. 

The Smiths had a sacred concert, so-called, on Sun- 
days on the bay, and there were lots of pretty girls. 
The neighbors all gathered there, and everyone had 
a great time. Smith had a one-quarter mile training 
track in front of the hotel. 

Larry Foley, the champion heavyweight boxer, had 
a boxing amphitheatre in the town. The chief attrac- 
tion there was composed of ten beautiful barmaids. 
They didn't do anything but wear fine clothes and 
flowers, and flirt with the patrons. Some scrubwomen, 
whom no one noticed, did all the work. 

The long bar, brilliantly illuminated, handsomely 
decorated, over which these pretty girls presided, was 
between the entrance to the place and the entrance to 
the arena where boxing bouts were held. Patrons paid 
a half-crown admission to the fights, but they bought a 
few drinks going in, and a few more going out. It 
was difficult to resist the barmaids' smiles. And every- 
one had a favorite barmaid. 

Bob Fitzsimmons, who later was to become heavy- 
weight champion of the world, carried messages for 
us in Foley's. And so did Frank Slavin, and Peter 
Jackson, for that matter. I represented Jackson and 
Slavin later in England, when Parson Davis, who first 
handled their affairs, went back to America. 



158 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



I found Frank Slavin, not so long ago, working on 
the docks in Victoria, B. C, and in good health and 
spirits. News of his death came unexpectedly while 
I was writing this. I always liked Frank Slavin. But 
Peter Jackson was the fighter for you. He could have 
eaten John L. Sullivan alive. 

The first time I ever heard of Sullivan was at Mike 
McDonald's store in Chicago, when Parson Davis told 
me that there was a young fellow in Boston, named 
John L. Sullivan, who had gotten a big reputation 
fighting local boys there. 

"You and I could take this Sullivan, Frank," the 
Parson said, "and make quite a bit of money out of 
him, matching him against all comers." 

I was making too much money in other ways at 
that time to be interested. And, as a matter of fact, 
I never had any use for John L. Sullivan after I found 
out his class and many other things about him. I al- 
ways considered that any good first-rate fighter could 
whip him. I looked at him as something like "Buffalo 
Bill." He was built up by press agenting and careful 
managing. 

Why, Charley Mitchell chased him all around the 
ring at Chantilly, France, and afterwards, in Madison 
Square Garden in New York, didn't John L. have to 
get "Clubber" Williams, the police officer who gave 
the New York Tenderloin its name (because it was just 

159 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



the juiciest captaincy in the city), to stop the farce? 
Sullivan was scared stiff that night. A great pal of 
mine, Al Smith, was his manager then. I say the 
farce, not the fight. Peter Jackson was the greatest 
fighter the world ever knew. When he fought Cor- 
hett, Jackson had been drunk for a year and was a 
sick man on his way home to Australia to die. Even 
then they fought sixty-one rounds, and it was when Cor- 
bett was right at his best. Jackson was forty-two when 
he fought Corbett, and should have been in the 
hospital. 

When I say that I lived at Botany Bay, it should be 
borne in mind that I was not there all of the time. 
When I landed in Sydney it was under the most fav- 
orable auspices. I had those letters of introduction 
from J. B. Haggin, and my big farewell party to the 
King of Hawaii on the steamship Alameda, had 
solidly entrenched my position. 

At Sidney I was invited to many homes, and I met 
lots of people, and made lots of friends. I traveled 
all over the country, visiting all the mining camps, and 
sheep, cattle and horse stations (which we call 
ranches), and was given royal treatment, and loved 
the people, who were true sports. 

Alf Drake, of Christchurch, New Zealand, and I 
became great friends. Alf had a fine racing stable 
which he had brought to Australia, and he also made 

160 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



book. He was losing a lot of money, and one day he 
said to me: 

"Frank, if you will let me have a thousand pounds 
I will give you a mortgage on my stable." 

"I'll give you the thousand pounds all right, Alf," 
I replied, "but I wouldn't take a mortgage. All I 
want in return is the privilege of managing and train- 
ing some of your stable." 

AJf looked at me in amazement, and said : 

"All right, then. Go ahead. But I didn't know 
you knew anything about training horses." 

I didn't tell Alf, but there was one horse in his 
string in particular that I liked. This was a horse 
called Pasha. He was a big, round chap, a gross 
horse, made for the mile. I had felt that Pasha was 
being handled wrong. They were giving him alto- 
gether too much long, slow work. He needed short, 
fast work. They also had him drawn too fine; he 
wanted to remain gross to be strong. 

I can tell at a glance if a horse is tired, or out of 
sorts, or if he is in the pink, and ready to give the 
best he's got that particular day. Pasha was always 
tired. 

When I took him over, I fed him good and strong. 
A gross horse is like a gross man, a man who naturally 
is big in the barrel. That man must be fed more than 
the man who is lean in the barrel. And I took Pasha 



161 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



off the heavy work every day, and gave him lots of 
halves and quarters fast, letting him run a mile about 
once in each two days. I was letting him eat, but not 
too much hay. 

I was out every morning at daylight with that horse, 
looking after him myself, which is the only satisfac- 
tory way I ever knew of looking after a horse. He 
never had won a race in Australia, but finally I was 
ready to bet money that he was going to win once, 
anyhow. 

Well, there was only one cloud on the horizon, and 
that was in the shape of a horse owned by Lord Duf- 
ferin. This horse looked enough like Pasha to be his 
twin brother, and I told Drake one day that I was 
afraid of him. 

"Those two horses are going to run away from the 
bunch," I added, "and leave the rest standing still. 
But which one of the two is going to win is a toss-up.'* 

Now, in racing, if you only have one horse to be 
afraid of, you generally can go and fix that guy. Most 
horsemen will do business in a case like that. But I 
was afraid of Lord Dufferin. I know him well enough 
to take a drink with him, and I never cared very much 
about sending others on errands like that. You can't 
trust any one. Anyhow, I got all the money I could 
down on Pasha. It was all on the cuff over there. 
Settlement was the following Monday morning. 

162 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



I was right at the winning post when those two 
horses came down the stretch. Both of them were 
bays, with white stockings and white noses, and most 
of the boys couldn't tell them apart. They went past 
the post like a team, but I'll take my oath the other 
horse had me beaten by a short nose. 

I thought "Damn it!" to myself, and turned away. 
When I heard cheering I looked up, and saw the 
Judges had put up No. 2, my number. My boy knew 
he hadn't been first, and he rode up to me and said: 

"I didn't win, Mr. Tarbeaux." 

"You shut up, and get up there," I said, pointing to 
the scales. 

To this day I consider that one of the strangest ex- 
amples of luck in racing. My horse didn't win, but 
he got the credit for it. I made a clean-up. 

Pasha was sold to Humphrey Oxenham, a book- 
maker, and his next race was at Waga-Waga, up coun- 
try. I went up to see him run. He was thin, and his 
eyes drooped. It was clear that he was being trained 
wrong again. He lost that race, and never won an- 
other one. 

I was second for the Melbourne Cup, and won the 
Canfield Cup with Keith in '86. 

In Melbourne I had an experience with a horse of 
an entirely different kind, and one that I still like to 
look back upon, because of its pleasant associations. 

163 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



There was a restaurant in Melbourne, called the 
Maison Doree, and I used to dine there regularly. 
However, since I had not then gotten over my Amer- 
ican habits and wanted a large breakfast, I began to 
eat my morning meals there too. 

No one else would be in the dining room in the 
morning except Monsieur and Madame, the proprietor 
and his wife. When they saw me eating alone they 
invited me to their table, and that launched a very 
pleasant friendship. 

"On Sundays we are closed," Monsieur told me, 
"but Madame and I would esteem it as a privilege if 
you would come to breakfast as usual as our guest. 
And afterwards I will take you for a ride behind my 
American trotting mare." 

Madame was so large and well cushioned with flesh 
that she preferred to remain at home, it appeared, 
when Monsieur went out with the horse and buggy. 
I was glad to accept his kind invitation. 

When we started for the drive I saw that Monsieur 
had attached a string on the olf, or right side of the 
mare's head. When I asked what that was for. Mon- 
sieur said: 

"This mare has a crooked neck, and that bit of 
string is to hold her neck straight." 

"She hasn't a crooked neck," I told him. "And 
when we stop I'll show you what the trouble is. You'll 

164 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



find that the teeth on the near (or left) side of her 
mouth are as sharp as razors, and have chopped the 
inner side of her cheek to mince meat. She is grab- 
bing the bit on the right side of her mouth to try to 
protect the left side. I can straighten her out for you." 

When we stopped I told him to put his hand in her 
mouth and feel her teeth, but to be very careful when 
he did it, as he would find they were unbelievably 
sharp. He pulled his hand out with a surprised ex- 
clamation. He had cut himself slightly. I showed 
him where her cheek was all chopped up. 

Just before I left America, Dr. Crooks of Chicago 
had made the beginning of modern horse dentistry. 
But it had been one of the horse trading assets of my 
father, and naturally, of mine. We often had picked 
up for a song a horse that its owner called a "crazy 
horse," when we saw that all that was the matter 
with the horse was a bad tooth or so. 

I've seen horses suffering so from ulcerated teeth 
that I don't know how they ever stood it and lived. 
I've seen the ulcers so bad that the oats were oozing 
right through the flesh to the outside of the nose. 
Father got such "crazy" horses for nothing, or next 
to nothing, pulled the offending teeth, bathed the hurts 
with antiseptic and healing lotions, and thus trans- 
formed worthless, pain-maddened animals into horses 
which commanded high prices. But we had to make 

165 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



or improvise our own horse dental tools, as Dr. Crooks 
hadn't begun the manufacture of the proper, scien- 
tific instruments in our day. 

The trouble with Monsieur's mare was a familiar 
one to me, and the remedy a commonplace one enough, 
but not generally known then. I got an ordinary rasp, 
and protected one side of it with a smooth slab of thin, 
pliable lead. That was so that it would not hurt the 
macerated cheek. Then, at a drug store I got some 
tannin and olive oil. 

At the stable I had them put a twitch on the mare's 
nose to hold her head up, and I filed those sharp teeth 
down. Then I bathed her with the tannin and olive 
oil. After a few days of rest, I went to see her and 
she was all right. I had bought a nice, soft rubber 
bit, and I substituted that for the steel bit Monsieur 
had been using. Then I asked him to let me take 
him for a drive behind his own mare. 

Of course, he was delighted. He hadn't really be- 
lieved me when I told him that I would straighten her 
out for him. She was a very valuable mare, and my 
simple ministrations had made her worth infinitely 
more. I always took a lot of pride in my ability to 
get the best out of horses, but that little incident con- 
cerning the mare of Monsieur and Madame of the 
Maison Doree, in Melbourne, always has been a fav- 

166 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



orite memory. They had such good food in that 
restaurant, and they were such nice people. 

One of the biggest sporting events in Australia in 
those days was the Sheffield Handicap. Frank Smith 
was the owner and handicapper, and the most famous 
runners in the world gathered there to compete for the 
first prize of a gold watch and five hundred pounds. 
That wasn't so much, but a man could bet to win fifty 
or seventy-five thousand dollars on one of those races. 

The distance was one hundred and fifty yards, and 
the starters were given whatever handicap Smith 
thought was justified. I had inside information on 
his methods, although he didn't know it, and I knew 
that if I could get a good runner to run a bye one year, 
that Smith would give him a couple of yards handicap 
the next year, and that in this way I could win a pot 
of money for him and me. 

The runners were Lon Myers, Harry Fredericks, 
Archie McComb, and Bill Skinner, of America; 
George, and Harry Hutchins, of England, and Ma- 
lone, of Ireland. There were many others whom I 
can't remember from all over the world, and any 
number of natives, both whites and aborigines. Hut- 
chins was champion of Great Britain at the distance. 
Myers had beaten George in a previous race. 

I first put my proposition to run a slow race to Lon 
Myers. But he couldn't see it. So then I put it up to 

167 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



another boy. He was a sensible, level-headed boy, 
who could see the sense in waiting for another day. 
And he waited ; and we cleaned up the next time out, 
when he got a couple of yards handicap from Smith. 

I've known scores of men who were unable to wait 
to win. They are too impatient. They want to do 
everything all at once. When I was racing my horses 
all over the world I always figured there was plenty of 
time. I would be out with them, at crack of dawn, 
watching them like a mother watches her children. 
And I would see to it that they lost races imtil their 
prices were right. I didn't care how long it took. But 
when they were right, and I knew they were right, I 
got busy. 

My friends in tropical countries, with whom I drank 
nightly until early hours in the morning, always won- 
dered how it was that I turned up fresh as a daisy for 
drinking again the next night. They didn't know that 
I was out of the hay with the roosters, and into my 
flannels, and off for the race track, or the training 
stable. They were asleep while I was getting my 
morning workout along with my horses, and while I 
was getting my tepid bath afterwards (no one should 
take a cold bath in hot countries) and having my rub- 
down, and getting my good breakfast of fruit and 
eggs. 

I might go out for a drive behind a fine horse after 
168 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



that, and usually did, but I always had my siesta, a 
custom which I still follow now at the age of seventy- 
seven. If I am in a big city, I walk perhaps five or 
ten miles a day when the weather is cool, and always 
arise at 5:30 or 6 o'clock in the morning. But I al- 
ways take an afternoon nap. 

I haven't any particular use for diets, but I don't 
believe in making a hog of myself. I eat lightly. The 
last doctor I saw not so long ago told me that I could 
take any vigorous exercise suitable for a man of forty 
in robust health. The reason I went to the doctor was 
that so many of my friends were dropping dead on 
golf courses that I thought I might as well get an ex- 
pert report on my own condition. 

Automobiles are ruining the health of thousands. 
A friend not long ago complained to me that he 
couldn't find a garage which was nearer to his resi- 
dence than two blocks. 

"Isn't that a damned outrage?" he said. "I might 
just as well not own a car at all if I've got to walk 
all over the United States to get to it." 

I told him that he couldn't expect much sympathy 
from me since I walked at least ten miles every day, 
and never rode in an automobile at all if I could help 
it. And although I was born in the day of the horse 
I've lived to see a good many of the automobile riding 
victims buried. 



169 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



In 1886, I visited the pink and white terraces of 
New Zealand, one of the sights of the world. I saw the 
eruption of Mt. Rotamahana, and the hot lakes. And I 
traveled widely through New Zealand and Tasmania. 

New Zealand breeds the best horses in the world. 
Our blue grass regions are good, but New Zealand's 
are better. And, more than that, our native horses, 
the mustangs, or bronchos, are descended from horses 
brought over originally by Cortez, the invader from 
Spain. And Spain never had anything much to boast 
about so far as horse flesh is concerned. Those Span- 
ish horses had some Arab in them, but they weren't 
anything to boast about, but pur thoroughbreds, of 
course, came from England. 

But England was at great pains to stock Australia 
and New Zealand with nothing but pedigreed stock 
of the finest quality from the very first. The result is 
an incomparable output of horse flesh, particularly 
in New Zealand, where the conditions are ideal for 
horse raising. 

Speaking of horse raising reminds me of the in- 
terest that my good health and alertness occasions in 
some of my acquaintances. When I am asked ques- 
tions about my apparent soundness I mention the fact 
that I was born long after my mother had given up the 
expectancy of children, and tell how they do with 
horses. 



170 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



In breeding horses, if they have a great stallion, 
and a great mare who is getting along so that it is 
figured she can only have one more colt at most, they 
go to any extreme to get that colt, because they know 
the last colt is likely to be a wonder. They tickle the 
old stallion's fancy by letting him flirt with a young 
and pretty mare, and when he begins to fancy himself 
a bit in the love line, they haul the young mare away, 
and let the old one take her place. 

In my travels around the world I've found that 
humans who are born last in a family are likely to be 
extremely durable. That is the way I explain the fact 
that dentists have told me that I never could have any 
decay in my teeth. To this day they are like granite. 

In 1887, I went from Australia to India, where I 
raced with success. I was second for the Viceroy's 
Cup in Calcutta. I sold my horses in the latter city, 
and returned to New South Wales where I bought 
Galloways, fourteen hands, or under, and shipped 
them to China. I raced in Hong Kong for a short 
while, but spent most of the year in Shanghai. 

After selling my horses in Shanghai, I joined an 
expedition and went to Singapore, where I rigged up, 
and visited Borneo, and then Sumatra and Java. I 
then toured Ceylon, India, Burma, and Indo-China, 
from where I went to Africa. In Africa I had a stable 
of horses and met with many interesting adventures. 

171 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



Of course, I played cards always. In Africa, my 
favorite card playing companions were Wolf Joel, 
and his brother Solly, now the wealthiest commoner 
in England; Abe Bailey, now Sir Abe Bailey, and 
Barney Barnato, who jumped overboard to his death 
while sailing from Africa to England. There was Joe 
Lewis, too. I played cards with them all. 

These men, with Cecil Rhodes and Alfred Beit, con- 
trolled the diamonds of the world. Rhodes and Beit 
never gambled. Wolf Joel was killed by a Dutchman; 
and they're all dead now except Sir Abe and Solly. 

It's natural to wonder what the stakes were in those 
games I played with these multi-millionaires, and 
others in different parts of the world. The stakes al- 
ways varied. It has been written that I have won eighty 
thousand pounds at a sitting. The best idea I can give 
of my success on this trip of mine is that when I finally 
sailed back to England after three years, I had to my 
name about one thousand pounds. 

I drank champagne then, and plenty of it; and I 
entertained according to the inspiration given me by 
the King of Hawaii, and according to my own rather 
lordly notions. I was friendly with the most beauti- 
ful women in the world and, naturally, traveled ex- 
clusively with men who had money to spare, and 
spent it. 



172 



CHAPTER XIII 



EGYPT AND FRANK HARRIS LONDON SAMMY LEWIS, 

THE MONEY LENDER 

I went to Egypt in 1888 and there, in Cairo, I met 
Frank Harris again. On this occasion I wasn't dressed 
in the style of the American frontier sportsman. I 
was wearing tweeds by a smart tailor, and at first 
Harris didn't recognize me, but after a moment he ex- 
pressed himself as both delighted and surprised. 

Harris wrote years afterwards that Luigi, manager 
of Shepherd's Hotel, told him that I had a peculiar 
reputation there, and that I had won more than a 
thousand pounds at cards from a Jew, to whose girl 
I introduced Harris. Harris also wrote that he set me 
right with Luigi, saying that he thought I knew more 
about horses than cards, but that he knew I could play 
cards well. 

I gave Harris a beautiful Arab pony from my 
string, and after a few days Harris had to leave town, 
and I lost track of him again. 

In Cairo I had some very fine Arab stallions and I 
rode horseback every morning in the Gizeh down to 

173 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



the Pyramids, and drove tandem afternoons in the 
Gizeh, which is a long drive lined with palm trees. 

One of our best arrangements was to get a crowd 
of moneyed men together for a trip. Then we would 
hire a dragoman, and he would fit up a dhabbeah, a 
Nile sailing vessel, and we would sail up the Nile to 
Assuan, and sometimes up to the second cataract. 
There was nothing much to do on such expeditions 
except play cards. Time didn't mean anything at all. 
So they were most profitable jaunts for me. 

Now-a-days Cook & Sons and other tourist com- 
panies have large stern wheel steamers which do the 
round trip in about twenty days. There wouldn't be 
so much profit in a trip of that sort. 

I had an option on the Khedival Palace in Cairo for 
three months. My hopes were to be able to form a 
syndicate to open a casino, but I couldn't find the 
necessary co-operation. An affair of that sort is not 
simple. Not only must one obtain the required cap- 
ital, but one also must obtain practical assistance of 
a most skilled kind. Workers in casinos get away 
with a deal of money even when managed by the best 
brains in the business. 

I could have had this palace, gambling concession 
and all, for the cost of the rugs alone. The place must 
have cost two million odd dollars. When my plans 
failed to materialize it was bought by the Wagon Lit 

174 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



Company of the Continent, and now it is one of the 
fine hotels of Egypt. 

In this same year I made a trip to Khartoum, during 
General Gordon's war with the Mahdists. I met Gen- 
eral Gordon there. 

After I left Egypt I went to Malta, and there I was 
put up at the Officers' Union Club by a captain with 
whom I became great friends. One evening Lord 
Knutsford, who was aide-de-camp to the Governor of 
Malta, who was the Duke of Edinburgh and a brother 
of King Edward, made some slighting remark about 
me — in fact, a very nasty one. 

I slapped the Lord smartly in the face. He said 
that I wouldn't do that if he didn't have on his uni- 
form. And I told him to go take off his uniform. 
But he never did. I spent all winter in Malta, was 
engaged to one of the wealthy Malta Countesses, a 
member of one of the leading families. The people 
of Malta are not in love with the English; many of the 
leading native gentlemen and all of the Countess's men 
relatives belonged to the Union Club, and several of 
them witnessed the slap. It was the first time one of 
those arrogant British officers had been called down 
there, and I went up in the esteem of Maltese people 
one hundred per cent. 

After leaving Valetta, the capital of Malta, I went 
to Tunis, and from there to Biskra and Constantine, 

175 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



one of the garden spots of the world. California is 
the most beautiful state in the United States. Con- 
stantino is one of the loveliest spots in the world. But 
I am a lover of deserts, and no doubt that is one good 
reason for my fondness for Constantino and Biskra. 

If any one asks me where I intend to own a home, 
I tell them some place in Westchester County for the 
Summer, but that is because Westchester is the best 
spot within easy reach by train of New York. As I 
have lived in every country in the world, many places 
in many countries are pleasant to me. 

One of my pals for years was "Paper Collar" Joe 
Gray. Joe and I were written about in newspaper 
articles now and then as two of the "five worst men 
in the world." Joe was one of the best men in the 
world, so far as I was concerned. 

Joe married a French woman who kept a premiere 
fruit shop in the Halles or market of Paris. Joe used 
to say that when he came rolling home mornings he 
would meet her going to her shop in her wooden sabots 
to get ready for the day's work. As a matter of fact, 
they had met each other through me. When I intro- 
duced them in Egypt she couldn't say "Yes" in Eng- 
lish and Joe couldn't say "Oui" in French, but she 
soon spoke English. Joe and his wife loved each 
other, and were happy till the end. 

She was like the majority of French women. She 

176 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



would wear wooden sabots and work like the devil 
while she was working, but she used to doll herself up 
in the latest creations from the best coutourieres, and 
go with Joe to Monte Carlo and the South of France in 
the season. And they had a hell of a good time to- 
gether on those trips. 

One night Joe and I were drinking and talking 
under a banyan tree outside the Mt. Nelson Hotel, at 
Capetown, and Joe said to me: 

"Frank, if you had your millions, what would you 
do?" 

"That's easy," I said. "I'd have a villa at Eze, 
just outside Monte Carlo, and I'd have stables, and a 
four-in-hand, and a nice yacht." 

"You're crazy," Joe exclaimed. 

"Well, what would you do?" I asked. 

"Me, I'd go back to Considine's in New York and 
play bridge," Joe said. And that's what he did to 
the end. 

And there you are. Every one thinks that every one 
else is crazy when it comes to the enjoyment of wealth. 
The truth is, I guess, that no one knows what it's all 
about anyhow. So far as I'm concerned, I like to keep 
on the go, if the absolute truth were told. 

From Constantine, on the Northern edge of the 
Sahara, I went back to Algiers, and from there to 
Spain. I traveled all over Spain, going through 

177 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Andalasia on horseback. Then, from Gibraltar, I 
crossed to Tangiers, and went with a camel caravan 
to Fez, in the Sahara Desert. 

I met Frank Harris for the third time in Monte 
Carlo in 1889. Frank recalled so many details of 
the meeting that I was rather surprised at his failure 
to mention the one that stands out most prominently 
in my memory. 

Immediately after my arrival I went into the casino 
and tried my luck at roulette, more to kill time than 
anything else, as I don't believe in that kind of gam- 
bling. As it happened I won a rather substantial sum, 
and was paid in mille notes, which are stiff pieces 
of paper, and crack and break if they are folded. 

Like many Americans, I hadn't gotten used to that 
kind of breakable paper money, and I stuffed the wad 
of notes into my pocket, and walked out into Giro's 
cafe. There I found Frank Harris with Jeanne Gar- 
nier, the leading actress of the French stage after 
Sarah Bernhardt, and a great beauty. Seated at the 
table with them were a Count and a Baron. They 
were throwing dice and asked me to join them. 

When I sat down I pulled the crumpled bunch of 
notes out of my pocket and tossed it on the table. We 
were drinking champagne and rolling the dice, when 
Jeanne Garnier picked up a note and began to smooth 
it out and lay it flat. 

178 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



This was too much for the Count, and although I 
hadn't done anything except be pleasantly polite to 
her, and she had done no more than smile politely to 
me, he became insanely jealous, and threw the notes 
in my face. I immediately slapped his cheek. As I 
have mentioned, when I slap anyone's face, I slap with 
the heel of my hand, which is as hard a blow as the 
blow of a fist. And I knocked the Count kicking. 

He was raving when Harris and I arose and left. 
Harris said : 

"You will hear from that Frenchman, Tarbeaux. 
He'll demand satisfaction, and you'll have to fight 
a duel. And you've been here only a day." 

"That's all right," I said. "But let's take a ride 
out to Mentone, and have breakfast first." 

Harris was a good sport, and a good rider, and an 
all-around good fellow, and we changed to our riding 
clothes and went out to Mentone. Harris insisted on 
dramatizing the aifair with the Count, and told me that 
probably the Baron would be on hand with a challenge 
as soon as we got back. 

"That gives you the choice of weapons," Harris 
said. "What will be your selection?" 

"Wait until I get challenged," I said. 

When we got back from our ride, sure enough the 
Baron presented his compliments to Harris, and said 
the Count wanted satisfaction. Nothing could wipe 



179 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



out the insult except blood. Harris asked me what I 
was going to do, and I said: 

"You tell the Baron that I'll be glad to fight the 
Count anywhere he wants to fight. I'll pick Winchester 
rifles, and suggest twenty paces as a fair distance. (I 
well knew it was a joke and would settle the duel 
stuff.) If he prefers ten paces, however, Fm agree- 
able. I've got a box of rifles and ammunition which 
I always carry with me right outside the door of my 
suite. And the Count can take his pick. I won't 
fight with rapiers : I never had one in my hand." 

Harris began to laugh. But he straightened his 
face, and went and delivered my message to the Baron. 
The Baron went away, and after that I never heard 
of him or the Count who wanted blood. Many years 
later I met Jeanne Garnier and we became fast friends. 

When I arrived in London for the first time I had a 
letter of credit on the Bank of Australasia for a sub- 
stantial sum. I went to the home office of the bank in 
Threadneedle Street, and said that I wanted to open 
an account. 

"Have you any references?" the manager asked. 

"I have this letter of credit from your branch in 
Australia," I replied. "That's my reference." 

He told me that before I could open an account I 
would have to have two witnesses. I told him that I 



180 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



was a stranger in Europe, and that I didn't know two 
people in the place. 

"I could draw on this account in your branch up to 
the limit of the credit," I said. "It seems to me that 
if one of your branches has an account with a man 
it's all the recommendation he should need.'* 

There was more to it, but the long and short of it 
is that I finally persuaded the manager to let me open 
an account without the two witnesses, and I learned 
afterwards that it was one of my most successful cons, 
as such a procedure never before had been known in 
London. 

Before I left the manager I told him that I sold 
precious stones, and that I might be given checks for 
them. I asked him if I mailed him a check from the 
Continent would he telegraph me if it was 0. K. I told 
him I would be glad to give him one of the stones as a 
present for his trouble. He assured me that he would 
inform me about any checks I might send him. 

After that I went right to Carlsbad, and registered 
at Pupp's. Now, I didn't know any one on the Con- 
tinent in those days, but I was extremely cautious 
everywhere I went. If I saw a face that looked famil- 
iar on the street or in a hotel, or anywhere, I went 
right to my room and sat down and thought things over 
until I could place that face in my memory. I wasn't 
taking any chances. 

181 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



In the hotel were a dapper, sprightly little Jew, and 
two Jewish women, one of them fat, and very appar- 
ently his wife, and the other her sister. I was at- 
tracted by the fact that his wife came down to dinner 
every night wearing a different set of jewelry. One 
night it would be diamonds and sapphires; the next 
night, diamonds and rubies, and the next night some 
other combination. But every combination was worth 
about a hundred thousand dollars, and when I had 
seen about a million dollars' worth I decided the three 
were well worth cultivation. 

I smiled and raised my glass at the yomiger of the 
two women, the unmarried one. And before long I 
knew both the women, and had been introduced to the 
little Jew. He was Sam Lewis. The name didn't mean 
anything to me. The younger sister was Celia Cohen. 

I had a chap with me. He was pretty crude, but he 
had to do. I told him: 

"You take Sammy and talk to him tonight, and I'll 
take care of the ladies." 

He reported that all Sammy would talk about was 
gambling, and how he played a lot of cards, and tell 
stories of slick American gamblers. That naturally 
put us on our guard. We knew that no one knew us, 
yet everything Sammy said sounded as if he was wise 
to our game and was kidding us. 

Then I went with Sammy while the other chap 

182 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



went with Mrs. Lewis and Celia, and Sammy told me a 
big yam. 

"I played at the Club Mediterranean in Nice," he 
said, "and I lost one hundred thousand pounds one 
night. In the morning I was awakened by a knock 
at the door. It was two gendarmes in evening dress. 
They told me that I had been rooked, and not to pay 
my loss. I told them it would look foolish for me to 
say I had been cheated, and not pay my debts, and to 
go away." 

"What did you do?" I asked. 

"Why, I paid the debt before noon the next day, 
according to my custom," Sammy said. 

Well, that made matters look worse. One hundred 
thousand pounds is a lot of money for any one to lose. 
It's nearly a half-million dollars. And to hear this 
dapper little Jew chatting about it so casually was 
quite upsetting. It wasn't human. 

Meanwhile, Sammy continued to talk about gam- 
bling and how much he loved it, and how he wished 
he had someone who would gamble with him. He 
was there while his wife was taking the cure, and 
was frankly and loquaciously bored. I was pretend- 
ing I had to take the cure, and drank a little warm 
water every morning to make the thing look real. I 
always figured a little of that water at those cures 
wouldn't really hurt any one. 

183 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Sammy's talking about gambling for big sums, and 
the warm water got on my nerves. I decided I would 
try something new on Sammy and test him out. My 
friend had told him he wouldn't play cards. I formed 
the theory that it wouldn't be good sense to tell Sammy 
I was a bad card player. I decided to tell him I was a 
good one. Finally, in the midst of one of his gambling 
talks, I said: 

"Damn it! Let's go play some cards." 

The way he took that remark you would have 
thought he was kidding. He actually danced up and 
down and waved his arms with pleasure. He acted as 
tickled as a poor kid who gets a new sled — or maybe 
it's a toy airplane these days — for Christmas. 

"Come on!" he exclaimed. "Come on! Come on 
up to my diggings." 

He was dancing, he was so happy, and he had me by 
the arm pulling me along. I don't mind saying I had 
been the most puzzled person on the Continent for 
days, and this increased my sense of bewilderment. 
I didn't know whether I was in the hands of a greater 
practical joker than myself or what. 

"What will we play?" he asked, after we had ar- 
rived at his gorgeously furnished apartment. 

"I'm an awful good card player," I said, follow- 
ing out my plan to try a brand new line on this baby. 

184 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



"And whatever you play you'd better not make it 
poker, because I am particularly good at that." 

"Ooh good!" he exclaimed happily. "I love to 
play with a good player." 

If I hadn't been somewhat used to his ways by that 
time I might have collapsed at that. But I said : 

"Well, let's make it a simple game." 

"How about Banker and Broker?" he suggested. 

"That's all right with me," I said. And he broke 
out the cards. 

I bet a pound. He said : 

"Oh, go on. Bet more than that." 

I bet five pounds, and then fifty pounds, and then 
more pounds. And before long I had him fifty thou- 
sand pounds in the hole. He spilled most of the cards 
on the floor once. They were those highly glazed 
cards and slippery as hell. I knew he couldn't help 
it, but I drew myself up in a dignified manner, as 
though I suspected something out of the way, and said : 

"Mister Lewis!" 

He was very apologetic. He said : 

"Really, Mr. Tarbeaux, it was an accident. I never 
turned a hand in my life. I am very sorry." 

"Very well," I said, still extremely dignified. 

And the game went on. But I was pretty much 
puzzled. I couldn't figure out this baby. He talked 
so cheerfully of huge sums, and was losing fifty thou- 

185 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



sand pounds as if they were so many cents, and ap- 
pearing quite happy about it. He certainly was a 
new one on me. I decided to throw him back some 
money. I threw him back thirty thousand pounds, 
thinking that twenty thousand pounds, or a hundred 
thousand dollars, was enough to test him with. I 
never expected he would pay, anyhow. And I couldn't 
afford to play cards with any one who couldn't or 
wouldn't pay. 

I said I was tired, that I had to arise early in the 
morning to drink my warm water, and so I said good- 
night and went to my own rooms. 

Next morning I met Sammy, and he put his arm 
around me and said: 

"Good morning, Tarbeaux; it's a real pleasure to 
gamble with you. You're so nice, and as cool as a 
cucumber." 

God! I couldn't understand that man. He was a 
fiend for gambling, and loved it more than any man 
I ever met, or else he was kidding me. He looked up 
at the clock, and slipped me a check, saying: 

"Lewis always pays his debts before noon." 

It was just a few seconds before noon. I had pre- 
pared a letter to the manager of the bank. I made 
some excuse to get away for a moment, and slipped 
the check in the envelope with the letter, and dropped 
it in a mail box. Then I rejoined Lewis. 

186 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



He wanted to play some more. I told him I was all 
knocked up by staying up late with him the night be- 
fore, and that my doctor had warned me against fur- 
ther late hours or excitement. In Carlsbad, the 
patients are supposed to hit the hay at 8 p.m., and I 
was supposed to be a patient. I said: 

"I wish I'd stayed away from my doctor, but I was 
foolish enough to see him, and I feel I'll have to fol- 
low^ his instructions." 

The truth was, of course, that I had no doctor, but 
that I didn't want to play any more cards until I had 
a report on Lewis's check from the manager of the 
bank in London. 

Day after day passed with Lewis begging me to 
play cards with him again, and I felt foolish not be- 
ing able to play with him, to give him his revenge. 
But I couldn't afford to gamble unless I knew with 
whom I was gambling, and that the player could pay. 
That is a rule that must be followed. But I never did 
hear from the bank. 

Finally, Sammy Lewis said to me one day: 

"Well, I can't stand this any more. I've got to 
have some gambling, so I'm going to Aix-les-Bains 
where I can get plenty of it." 

After he went I had my friend follow him, and 
he went to Aix-les-Bains and gambled like hell. And 
no wonder. Do you know what he turned out to be? 

187 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



He was Sammy Lewis, the wealthiest money lender in 
England, a multi-millionaire, the biggest sucker for a 
gambler to get hold of in the world. I'd had the biggest 
chance of my life and I hadn't known it. I could have 
taken a million dollars from him without any more 
trouble than I took the one hundred thousand. 

The stories he had told me of his losing huge sums 
cheerfully were all real. He really had paid that one 
hundred thousand pound loss after he had been 
warned not to and told that he had been gypped out of 
it. Gambling was his passion, and m.oney was no 
object. I never had a chance like that again in my 
whole life. 

His check had been drawn on the Bank of England, 
and I suppose when the manager of my bank received 
it he didn't think there was any need of notifying me 
that it was all right. Sam Lewis was one of the best 
known men in the country, and every one in Europe, 
except me, knew his checks were good for millions of 
pounds, let alone for thousands. 

I had him followed to Paris, and from there to 
London. And when I arrived in London I took a 
suite at the Savoy, and arranged for a party. I knew 
that Sam liked pretty girls, and I had plenty of them 
for dinner. I knew some of the most beautiful act- 
resses in Europe, having met many of them on tour 
in Australia and Africa, and I knew other beautiful 



188 



FRANK TARBEAUr 



women as well. Then I sent my friend to invite Sam. 
When Sam arrived, he said: 

"I'm going to eat your dinner, Tarbeaux, but I'm 
going to leave you soon afterwards, as I am going 
to join a big baccarat game in the city." 

"I'll be glad to go along with you," I said. 

But Sammy said that couldn't be done. I didn't 
know why he turned me down until later. What had 
happened was that he met two fellows from whom 
I'd won considerable money. One was Lord Talbot, 
whom I had met in Australia, and the other was Harry 
Rosenfield of Chicago, who had lost to me in Egypt. 
Wlien Sammy mentioned Tarbeaux, the American with 
whom he had played cards, they had said : 

"Ah, Tarbeaux!" and the beans were spilled. 

But Sammy and I continued pleasant friends for 
many years. He said to me: 

"Boy, you made the mistake of your life when you 
didn't take me when you had the chance. You'll 
never get another one like it." 

"I know that," I said. 

"But I like you, Tarbeaux," Sammy said, "and 
I'd enjoy seeing you. Come up to my office in Cork 
Street any time and chat with me, and have a drink 
and a cigar. Edward comes up there (by Edward he 
meant the Prince of Wales) and plenty of other people, 
so you'll have distinguished company." 

189 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



And by God! I did go up to that office of his at 
the further end of Burlington Arcade, where he used 
to stand in the bay window and look out and talk. He 
was a great man, was Sammy Lewis, the biggest money 
lender in England, or the world, and the greatest 
gambler in the world, bar none. 

One time Sammy took over thirty thousand acres of 
the Savranac estate in England. And that was a lot 
of land in England, worth millions of pounds. And 
when a clamor went up, Sammy just turned it back. 

"It doesn't make any difference to me," he said. 

He could make millions of pounds, and he could 
throw millions of pounds away without batting an 
eye. He was the smartest, shrewdest, cleverest man 
in the world, and at the same time the biggest sap for 
gambling. It was his passion. I never understood it. 

Finally, the usury laws stopped those huge profits 
for the money lenders, but my recollection is that 
when Sammy died he left about one hundred million 
dollars, or upwards of twenty million pounds. 

I beat Billy Bass out of thirty thousand pounds, 
and might have gotten a million out of him, if it hadn't 
been for the new law that prevented him borrowing 
more money on his anticipations. 

In the spring of '89 I went to Paris, and then to 
London. There I rented the beautiful home of Lady 
Anne Bridgeman, 40 Stanhope Garden, Kensington, 

190 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



London. Many notables met there, and lots of money 
changed hands over the card tables. 

There, as in other parts of the world, my horseman- 
ship, and my knowledge of horses opened doors in 
the social world that otherwise might have remained 
forever closed to me. Part of every winter I rented 
hunting lodges in the different shires of England. 

I would go to Tattersall's myself and pick out 
my hunters. Everyone else had vets select the horses. 
But I always felt that I knew horses better than any 
vet that ever lived, and I chose my own. 

When I got my place in the country, I used to take 
care of my horses personally. Of course, I had grooms 
and that sort of thing, but I hand coddled my mounts. 
Cutting out cattle on the range was great training for 
riding to hounds, and while I was at it no one was 
beating me, either in quality of mounts or of horse- 
manship. I had the goods at that game. And the 
English gentry accepted me as one of themselves. 

I lived in grand style, both in town and country. 
In the town house I had a butler and a footman. But 
every now and then I used to get on a bender, and 
then I headed for the dives of London. 

One of my favorite spots when I was tight was a 
dose house, or flop house as we would call it, down 
in Jack the Ripper Alley. This was run by Jack 
McCarthy and his wife. It was a concrete building, 

191 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



mth concrete floors. They sold bits of horse meat 
for a penny, and for the same amount a man could flop 
oi> a pile of straw in a little coffin upstairs. 

Jack and his wife made a fortune out of the busi- 
ness, and she was covered with diamonds. I would 
hang around their place for a week, associating with 
the dregs of London and eating those fried fish, which 
they always are cooking in oil, and horse meat. 

About the end of the party I'd be as black as your 
boots, a most disreputable looking sight, and then 
nothing would do but Jack would have to send a 
guard of costers home with me. I would arrive at 
Lady Anne Bridgeman's house with ten or twenty 
costers in their queer clothes, with their little rainbow 
colored carts drawn by burros. 

And I would invite the costers to come in and have 
a drink with me. They'd come trailing in, and squat 
on the floor in the parlor, and I'd say to my butler, who 
was much more of a lord than any lord I ever met, 
being the most dignified British butler I ever met: 

"Bring these gentlemen some champagne." 

And I got a wonderful kick out of seeing his face 
as he served champagne to those costers, and me prob- 
ably looking a lot more disreputable than they did. 

Willie Wilde played the piano for me when I had 
parties in that house, and that is how I first met his 
mother, Lady Wilde, the eccentric character, who sel- 

192 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



dom was seen in public, and never came to London. 

In the springs I used to go to different resorts on 
the Continent, Carlsbad, Francis Bad, Baden Baden, 
Aix-les-Bains, Homburg, and in some parts of the sum- 
mers to Norway and Sweden, and also to Germany 
and Switzerland. 

I played one of the most interesting games of 
cards of my life in Switzerland on one of these oc- 
casions, making up a card party with the late Joseph 
Pulitzer, proprietor of "The New York World" and 
the "St. Louis Post Despatch." Mr. Pulitzer was 
blind, or almost blind, but he enjoyed playing cards. 
Of course, there was no gambling in that game. Claude 
Ponsomby, whose wife was very beautiful, was his 
secretary. We stopped at the Kulin Hotel, St. Moritz, 
Switzerland. Joe was a fine chap and we played to 
please him. 

Several winters after the fox hunting season was 
over I went to the South of France, Monte Carlo, Italy, 
Egypt, Tangiers, Algiers, and sometimes back to 
Africa and Australia. 

By 1890 I was quite familiar with the world. I 
had visited the principal music centers of Europe. 
I made it a point to be at the Wagner Opera House, 
in Bayreuth, an opera house built for the composer 
by the Mad King of Bavaria. And during the seasons 
there I lived in Nuremburg, a few miles distant. I 

193 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



also was in Dresden during the season, and attended 
the first opening to the public of the Passion Play at 
Oberammergau. 

Vienna and Buda Pesth became favorite spots for 
me, and I managed for several seasons to go to Milan 
to hear the operas tried out at the Scala. 

I never neglected feminine companionship in any 
of my travels, and one of the most attractive of all the 
ladies I met and with whom I became very friendly 

was the Baroness D , whom I mentioned earlier 

in the book in connection with slapping "Buffalo 
Bill's" face. 

With an American friend, who was seeing me off, I 
had gone to the station in Paris to take the Orient Ex- 
press to Vienna. This is a solid vestibule train which 
runs right through to Constantinople via Vienna. While 
we were talking, a beautiful carriage and pair, with 
coachman and footmen on the box, and three women 
inside, drove up. We could see at a glance that it 
was mother, daughter, and maid. The daughter was 
a marvelously beautiful brunette who, it developed, 
was going to take the same train. 

"There's something for you ; nail that, if you can," 
my American friend said. 

"I'll do my damndest," I replied. 

As a matter of fact, I didn't have to do anything 
extraordinary. I merely said "Good morning," to 

194 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



her when passing her compartment, and smiled, and 
she asked me to come in and sit down, and she told 

me she was the Baroness D , and I told her I was 

Frank Tarbeaux. We chatted pleasantly about this 
and that. And when we were approaching Vienna, 
she said: 

"I suppose you are going to Froner's Imperial 
Hotel." (This hotel was formerly the palace of the 
King of Wurtemburg, and a wonderful hostelry.) 
"Well, my brother is an officer in the Uhlan Guards, 
and he will be at the station to meet me. Don't notice 
me there. But I will be at supper with my brother in 
the hotel tonight, and I will recognize you. When you 
come over I will introduce you to my brother as a 
man I met at a house party at Mrs. Moore's in Biar- 
ritz." (Mrs. Moore was an American woman noted 
for the lavishness of her entertainment.) 

This plan went through according to schedule, and 
when I met the brother he wanted to drag me off to 
play baccarat at the Jockey Club. I've forgotten what 
I told him. But I made some excuse, because what 
I haven't told thus far is that the Baroness had fore- 
seen that contingency as well, and had arranged a 
rendezvous for me after her brother had gone to the 
club. 

I had a delightful tete-a-tete with the Baroness then, 
and we remained great friends for years. She in- 

195 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



troduced me to Baron Oppenheimer, of Cologne, one 
of the great bankers of Germany. And I always 
figured that Baron Oppenheimer and I were brothers- 
in-law, in a way. Baron Oppenheimer did not play 
cards. 

I spent some of 1891-92 in London, and on the 
Continent, and I also made several trips back and 
forth on the transatlantic boats. I never played cards 
on them. 



196 



CHAPTER XIV 



SELLING RECONSTRUCTED RUBIES THE KHEDIVE 

OF EGYPT 

One of my best pals in London was a big fence, who 
was a multi-millionaire in English pounds, not Ameri- 
can dollars, when he died. This man used to like 
to have the boys drop in at any time, and particularly 
at dinner. 

He frequently had lots of pearls and other stones 
about, and sometimes he kept them loose in a bowl. 
He would say: 

"Perhaps you need a new pearl, or something 
Frank; help yourself over there." 

I could go over and pick out a pearl or a diamond 
at any time. And I did, now and then. I was par- 
ticularly fond of pearls. I wore one in my Ascot 
tie, as all gentlemen who dressed smartly did, and, 
of course, I wore them in my dress shirt. And that 
reminds me of an incident which always amused me. 

A particular pal of mine and I used to go to supper 
clubs practically every night. My pal said to me one 
evening: 

197 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



"It's a funny thing, Frank, but I seem to be always 
losing the top stud in my shirt. Now that I think of it, 
I lose a pearl about every time I go out." 

"My God!" I said. "I've been noticing the same 
thing. Here you and I think we're a couple of pretty 
wise guys, and someone must be getting away with 
our pearls." 

We kept our eyes open after that, and it wasn't long 
before we discovered what was happening. Those cute 
little girls with whom we were dancing had a habit 
of snuggling their heads against our shirt fronts. We 
had been saps enough to think they kind of liked us. 
But it was our pearls they liked. They had been pull- 
ing them out of our shirts with their teeth. 

That was a laugh on us — getting trimmed by those 
girls. 

One time when I was calling on my friend, the 
fence, he showed me a double handfull of rubies. 
They were the most beautiful I ever had seen. 

"What do you think of those, Frank?" he said. 

"They look like the most perfect collection of rubies 
I ever saw in my life," I replied. "I never saw such 
perfect looking ones." 

"They're reconstructed stones," he explained. And 
he introduced me to the chap who had just brought 
them over from Paris. 

That was the first batch of reconstructed rubies, so 



198 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



far as I know, that ever had been made. Afterwards 
the experts learned that the only difference between 
the reconstructed ruby and the natural ruby is that the 
reconstructed stone is clearer than the pure article. 
A real natural ruby has a slight cloudiness, but a re- 
constructed one is clear as crystal. 

The fence knew that I turned my hand to anything 
in which I could see money, and he asked me if I 
didn't see some profit in the reconstructed rubies. 

"You give them to me," I said, "and I'll see what 
I can do with them." 

I took about twenty of them, all beautiful stones, 
worth probably about forty pounds apiece; and with 
Jolly Jill Maddern, I went first to Glasgow. She was 
dressed in the height of fashion, and wore diamonds of 
the first water, eight- or ten-carat stones. I was turned 
out as usual by the best tailor in London. The persian 
lamb coat I wore cost four hundred pounds. 

In Glasgow I went into the leading jeweler's and 
asked for the head man. I had found out at a very 
early age that it never paid to do business with anyone 
anywhere except the head man. When the proprietor 
came to see what I wanted, I put one of the rubies on 
the counter, and said: 

"I would like to match that." 

He picked up the ruby, looked at it, and exclaimed: 

"Why, that is one of the most beautiful rubies I 

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THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



ever saw in my Hfe. You may not know that rubies 
are not cut as are diamonds, and that it would be ex- 
tremely difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate this 
stone anywhere in the world." 

Of course, I knew all about rubies, and all other 
jewelry. In my business I had to know as much about 
jewelry as a pawnbroker. But I said: 

"I didn't know that. You see this particular ruby 
was in an old-fashioned piece that one of my ancestors 
brought back from India. It has been in the family 
for a long time. I knocked it out of its setting think- 
ing that I would get another one just like it, and set 
one of them on each side of this diamond in my wife's 
ring." 

With the words, I pointed to a ring on Jill's finger 
on which a ten-carat stone was shining. 

"Well," the jeweler said, "I am afraid you are go- 
ing to be disappointed. I can assure you that your 
chances of duplicating this ruby are very slim. In 
fact, they are negligible." 

"I suppose you know your business," I said, "but 
it certainly upsets my plans for a nice present to my 
wife. Her heart was set on it." 

"Did you ever think of selling the ruby?" the 
jeweler said. He still was holding it, and looking at it. 

"No," I replied. "I hadn't considered selling it." 

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FRANK TARBEAUX 



"But," the jeweler said, "you might be able to turn 
it in and get another ring for your wife." 

"I hadn't thought of that either," I said, "but I saw 
a ring in the window there, now that you mention it, 
that I thought was very nice." 

The jeweler went to the window, and brought back 
the ring, which was worth probably five hundred 
pounds. 

"I think that is perfectly beautiful," Jill said. 

"If you like that ring," the jeweler said, "I may 
be able to arrange a trade. You leave the ruby here 
for a few hours, and come back, and I will see what 
I can do." 

Jill and I left after a little more talk. I knew, of 
course, what he wanted to do, and by returning a little 
earlier than I thought I would be expected I came 
upon him doing it. He and two or three other men 
had a big microscope-like instrument over the ruby, 
and they were examining it. There was only one of 
those instruments in a town, outside of London, and 
the jeweler had sent for it. 

It must be remembered that at that time recon- 
structed rubies hadn't been heard of. They were 
made by fusing together particles of real ruby, and 
an expert couldn't tell them from the genuine article, 
except, as I have said, that they seemed so much 
clearer and better than the genuine. 

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"This is a beautiful stone," the jeweler said, "and 
I will exchange that ring you and your wife liked for 
it, if you are agreeable." 

"The ruby by itself means nothing to me," I said, 
"and my wife certainly likes the ring. So it's a bar- 
gain, although I don't know much about stones." 

I walked out of the store with the five-hundred- 
pound ring, and left behind me the twenty-pound ruby. 

I repeated that same performance in twenty towns 
in Scotland, England, and Ireland, and finally re- 
turned to my friend the fence, with a bag full of 
valuable stones. I was prepared to make a good 
deal of money out of that graft. It looked pretty soft 
to me. 

However, I had figured my chickens before they 
were hatched. The agent from France had gotten 
drunk, and had sold reconstructed rubies in wholesale 
lots to all the boys in London, for ten pounds apiece. 
And the boys had gone and hocked them for about 
fifty pounds apiece. London was flooded with rubies, 
and everyone was wondering where the hell they had 
come from. 

If they only had kept the reconstructed rubies imder 
cover, and let me handle them my way, I could have 
made a profit running into lots of money for all of us. 
As it was, I was pretty worried for some time, and I 
never dealt in those stones any more as a regular prac- 

202 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



tice. I did sell one here and there afterwards. My 
friend, the Khedive of Egypt, bought one from me for 
four hundred pounds. It was worth about forty 
pounds. 

That persian lamb coat I wore on that ruby selling 
trip had an interesting end. When I came out of the 
Isle of Wight, after serving my time for the Cutlas af- 
fair, that you'll hear about soon, I found that the coat 
had fallen to pieces. 

There was a pawnbroker I'll call Abe, with whom 
I did a deal of business from time to time in London. 
He had done me dirt, and I had been wanting to get 
even. I went to him one night with that coat over 
my arm. He knew that I was used to spending two 
or three hundred pounds a night, and that my deals 
always were on a large scale. I said to him, in a 
hurry: 

"Hello, Abe, I'm kind of short tonight, and it's get- 
ting rather warm for this coat of mine. Will you give 
me thirty or forty pounds on it, and hang it up till I 
come in for it?" 

"Sure, Frank," Abe said. And without looking at 
the coat, he gave me forty pounds, and I walked out. 

Next time I called on Abe about some business, he 
said: 

"Frank, that coat you left here ain't worth any- 
thing." 

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THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



"Well," I said, "you're a pawnbroker, aren't you?" 

I got a great laugh out of that. Abe was always 
looking for the best of it in every deal he was in. 
He thought he was getting a good coat pretty cheap, 
when as a matter of fact what he got was a ragged mess 
that he couldn't give away. 

People are funny. They don't want fake jewelry, 
but they can't tell the fakes from the real. The way 
to test pearls is with your mouth. The real ones are 
full of holes like a sponge. The fakes are as smooth 
as glass. 

The Senegalese are the smartest people in the world 
when it comes to dealing in precious stones. What 
I did with the reconstructed rubies is child's play 
to the deals they put over. It's nothing for them to 
show fake letters and bills of sale from men like 
J. P. Morgan. 



204 



CHAPTER XV 



THE CUTLAS CASE — OSCAR WILDE — KIDNAPPED FROM 
THE TRANSVAAL PRISON 

What turned out to be the beginning of the most 
notorious and uncomfortable adventure of my life be- 
gan quietly enough in the White Hart Hotel, at Mar- 
gate-by-the-Sea in England. I met Arthur Cockburn 
— pronounced as if spelled C-o-b-o-r-n — ^there. 

Cockburn and his pal, Alfred Saville, whom I was 
to meet later, were leaders of the so-called Birming- 
ham mob of bullies. They were heelers, who worked 
for a certain type of bookmaker and racing man. Their 
job was to fight their employers' battles for them. 
Both of them had been arrested twenty or thirty times 
for assaults. They were known as the best rough-and- 
tumble fighters in the country. 

When I met Cockburn he was at the watering place 
with Mick Bently and Johnnie O'Neil, and two other 
racing men of lesser prestige. Cockburn was the 
men they depended upon to get saps into card games, 
and the man they depended on to see that the sap lost 
after he got in the game. 

205 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Cockburn lured me into a game of baccarat in the 
hotel. I was posing as a wealthy American without 
much brains, a great thirst for alcohol, and a lot of 
money. When I got full of Scotch I used to mention 
my letter of credit and show it if anyone encouraged 
me. It was for a large sum. 

This might be as good a place as any to mention that 
never have I failed in my lifetime of separating saps 
from money to find a man who won't be tempted to do 
something which is not considered absolutely honest 
if the immediate financial reward is large enough. 

I've even had a minister of the gospel follow me 
and try to kill me because he was a poor man, and he 
thought that he had seen a roll amounting to many 
thousands of dollars in my possession. It happened 
that the roll was a fake, the only genuine bills being 
on the outside of it. But it was enough to tempt him 
to attack me. 

Well, I had a fine reputation in England, and these 
people thought I was a sap, and they took me into 
their game and tried to take my money away from me. 
It was like an Indianapolis or a Springfield smart boy 
trying to do something out of his class. I saw what 
they were trying to do, and they didn't see anything 
except that I had won about four hundred pounds be- 
fore I realized that I was in the wrong sort of company 
to win anything from or be associated with. 

206 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



I had been pretending to be drunk, and now I pre- 
tended to be much drunker. I lolled around, and 
fumbled with cards and chips, and finally I said: 

"I guesh I'll go to bed." 

I wouldn't listen to their urgings to stay, and I got 
up and staggered to my room. I had a feeling that 
someone, probably Cockburn, was right at my heels, 
and so I threw myself across the bed face down. Sure 
enough, Cockburn came in, mad as the devil. 

"You bloody Yankee bastard," he said in his bluff 
English way, "you showed me up in front of my pals, 
did you? Well, you jolly well get up out of that and 
come back in there and play cards, you bastard, or 
I'll bash your skull in for you." 

I was still pretending to be drunk, but my mind 
was working fast. I figured if I didn't go back, the 
good reputation which was so valuable to me in Eng- 
land was in danger of being ruined. I had plenty 
of money — more than I needed. The four hundred 
pounds didn't mean anything to me. So I decided 
to get up and go back and lose it to them, and a 
little more with it, and try to leave them in good 
humor. 

"Aw right," I said, "I'll go back — do besth I can." 

There were still plenty of whiskey and sodas, and 
I drank quite a bit, and they thought I drank a good 
lot more than I did. I finally lost back what I had 

207 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



won and one hundred pounds of my own in the bar- 
gain. I thought that was enough. 

As my tactics had been to get more and more help- 
less and sloppy, and as I was a loser now, there really 
was nothing for them to do except let me go, which 
they did with a bad grace. They wouldn't have done 
it if there had been any method of keeping me there 
except by physical force. They were pretty crude 
workers. 

I gave them a drunken I. 0. U. and went to bed. 
In the morning I gave them a check on London, 
which I thought would close the incident. But it 
didn't. 

My pals told me before I went back to London that 
Cockburn was very angry. First, he had been mad 
because I won money despite his best efforts to win it 
for himself and his principals. Then, afterwards he 
was madder still because his principals chided him 
for being so crude with a good thing like me — a rich 
American, and all that. They gave Cockburn hell 
for not knowing his business. 

My house in London at that time was at 19 Tave- 
stock Square, W. C. It was a beautiful house, with 
a butler, servants, everything. 

One day I was sitting in the bay window when I 
saw Cockburn pull up in a horse and cart. I told the 
butler not to let him in then or ever. He called sev- 



208 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



eral times before he got tired of it. I continued to 
hear that he was very angry with me. 

About a year later Parson Davis came over to 
London with the great Peter Jackson. Jackson and 
Slavin were both Australian boys, whom I knew well 
in Australia. And there was another crowd with 
Frank Slavin. The Parson was my old pal, and for 
the first time in several years I got down among the 
sporting fraternity. Cockburn saw me with the Par- 
son, and of course he thought right away: 

"Tarbeaux's no mug; he's a sharper." 

That made Cockburn wilder than ever, and when 
he saw me the next time, he came to me and said : 

"You tried to take me down, didn't you, you Yankee 
bastard." 

"Well, what are you crying about?" I asked. "You 
won one hundred pounds from me, didn't you? What 
have you got to worry about?" 

"Trying to take me down — ^me, Arthur Cockburn," 
he said, glaring at me. 

"You ought to be satisfied, Cockburn," I said. "You 
won my money." 

"Me— Arthur Cockburn," he said. 

It stuck in his craw. Every time he met me it was 
the same performance. I was leaving a supper club 
about two o'clock one morning when I met Cockburn 
and Saville on the stairs. They were on their way 

209 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



home, too. I didn't know Saville well, but I knew who 
he was, of course. He, like Cockburn, weighed about 
two hundred pounds. Both were big men. At that 
time, I weighed one hundred and ninety pounds, mostly 
composed of wire and leather, and I was a little better 
than six feet tall in my bare feet. 

Cockburn said: **Going out home?" 

I said: "Yes." 

"All right," he said, "we'll give you a lift." 

I accepted, as I wanted to be decent, which was part 
of my policy. 

I had moved to another beautiful house at 18 Ulster 
Place, facing Regent's Park. They lived in St. John's 
Wood, and their route home took them past my place. 

We all got into their private cab. They had some 
pheasants and a Yorkshire ham on top of it. When 
we arrived at my place, I asked them if they wouldn't 
come in and have a drink. They accepted, and we 
went into the house, leaving the cabby on the cab 
under the portcochere, plainly visible from the dining 
room windows. It was summer and the sashes were 
raised, and we heard a bobby, who had walked up, 
chatting with the cabby. 

My girl, of the moment, was upstairs asleep, as also 
was a young newspaper man whom I had befriended. 
Some of the boat boys — ^the boys who play cards on 
the transatlantic liners — ^had told me that this news- 



210 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



paper chap was stranded at the Charing Cross Hotel. 
So I had told them to send him up to me, that I needed 
a private secretary. And I had my tailor fit him out 
with clothes, and he was living with me. It was just 
one of my jokes that I needed a secretary, of course. 

My China boys, whom I now had for servants, were 
asleep in their quarters. I got out the whiskey and 
soda, and we had a few drinks. About three o'clock, 
Cockburn started at me again. 

"God blime, you bloody Yankee, you tried to take 
me down, didn't you?" he said. 

"For God's sake," I replied, "haven't you gotten 
over that yet, Cockburn?" 

Saville tried to calm down Cockburn. 

"You shouldn't talk that way, Arthur," he said. 
"You're in Tarbeaux's home, and he's treating you 
right." 

"I've got a notion to dash 'im in the bloomin' mug," 
said Cockburn. 

Well, I was all set. I finally made up my mind 
that I was going to get this bird, and to hell with 
diplomacy. When he began to revile me I had bal- 
anced on my toes, waiting to jump. Of course, I 
wasn't telegraphing my intentions, but I was all set. 

"I'm going to tell you something, Cockburn," I 
said. "You've been insulting me for a couple of 
years. You take me for a dude or something. I want 

211 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



to tell you that you're making the biggest mistake of 
your life. I don't think there's a God-damned man 
alive that can lick me." 

"Y' don't, y' bloody bastard? Well, take that!" 
he yelled. 

And he picked up one of the beautiful flint glasses 
from which we had been drinking, and plunged it at 
my face. 

I stopped the glass with my right hand, suffering 
the most painful wound of my life, as it injured the 
nerve. At the same time I struck with my left hand 
throwing him off balance. And with the same motion 
I snatched up another of those flint glasses with my 
right hand, shivered it slightly against the table to give 
it a cutting edge, and ripped it down across his face, 
across his throat, and up across his face again. It was 
his choice of weapon so I used it. 

This all happened in about two ticks of the clock — 
before Saville had a chance to move. I had my eye on 
Saville, of course, but I didn't know now whether it 
was my good luck in dodging, or his poor aim, that 
saved my head from the bottle he hurled at me. 

I caught up a bottle and smashed it down on 
Saville's head, and then I ripped into him with the 
splintered glass. Then, I leaped from him to Cock- 
burn, and slashed him again. 

Don't get the idea that this was a quiet battle. It 

212 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



was a fight to the death among three men each weigh- 
ing about two hundred pounds, and accustomed to that 
sort of fighting, only as a matter of fact I was more 
used to the death end of fighting than they were. 

The room was rocking like a ship at sea with flail 
and thrash of heavy bodies, the crash of overturning 
chair and tables, and the ringing crash of armor 
shaken from the walls. 

I had them both down, and was giving them the 
boot. I would go away up in the air, and come down 
on them with my heels. I was out to kill them before 
they could kill me. I would go up over one and drum 
him with my feet and then get the other as he stirred 
to get up, and drum him. 

They found out afterwards that among other things, 
I had fractured Cockburn's jaw in three places. He 
was taken to the morgue at first, but they found his 
heart was beating a little, and they took him from the 
morgue to a hospital. I paid particular attention 
to Cockburn, and I thought I had killed him. They 
each lost about one hundred pounds as the result of 
this beating and afterwards were only caricatures of 
men, and both died in little more than a year after- 
wards. But they lived long enough to save me from 
being topped, which is a way of saying being hanged. 
If one of them had died before I was tried, I wouldn't 
be here now. And my girl used to cheer me up a lot 

213 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



when I was in jail awaiting word of their condition 
by coming to me each day and saying: 

"Frank, they say Cockburn can't live the day out," 

But there was a lot going to happen to me yet out 
of that unfortunate meeting with Cockburn. 

After I got the two of them down on the floor, and 
had them dead so far as I was concerned, I did a thing 
that gave the episode its name all over the world. I 
bent over and picked up some cutlasses which, with 
some medieval armor, had fallen from the wall and 
put them on a table. I don't know why I did it except 
that I was nervous. 

When the bobby who, with the cabby had been 
pounding on the door from the beginning of the fight, 
which they could hear as plainly as if they had been 
present, came in, he saw the cutlasses, all covered 
with blood. So he decided that I had used the cut- 
lasses in attacking Cockburn and Saville. And to this 
day, the case still is called the Cutlas Case. 

I never did take the stand in my own behalf, as 
that would have brought out my record in the United 
States, which wouldn't have helped me any. And I 
never told the real story until now. Neither Parker 
nor Harris ever knew the correct story. 

The fact is that all I used were my fists, the glass 
and my feet. But the English police never would be- 
lieve that so much blood could have been shed in so 



214 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



few seconds without the cutlasses. Later when I took 
off my evening clothes, I was red from head to foot. 
The room was red. It was the most murderous look- 
ing scene I've ever gazed upon myself, and that's say- 
ing a good deal. 

During the fight, my girl woke up, and went in and 
told the newspaper chap to go downstairs. 

"Frank is in some trouble," she said. 

He was coming down in his pajamas, and I told 
him to go to the door and admit the bobby and the 
cabby. 

They took me to the police station, and I suffered 
the tortures of the damned with the wound on the 
middle knuckle of my right hand, where I had caught 
Cockburn's glass. I asked for a doctor, but I didn't 
get one for several hours and I thought for once my 
control might give way. That damaged nerve was 
whooping. You couldn't hear it, but I could feel it. 

I made a fatal mistake in the Magistrate's Court by 
saying that I certainly had intended to kill them if 
I could. I was used to America, where I figured that 
I would have been decorated instead of prosecuted for 
defending myself against two notorious thugs in my 
own home. As Frank Harris says, however, in Eng- 
land, the only legal way to defend yourself, even if 
your life is in danger, is to go to law about it. 

I was three months in Holloway Castle waiting first 

215 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



for Cockburn to decide to survive or die, and second 
for both of them to recover sufficiently to appear 
against me in court. 

In the jail I could have my own food sent in, and 
since it was in England I was allowed wine and beer 
with my meals. I also could have visitors, and could 
read newspapers and books, so I did not.fare so badly. 

Finally, I was released in bail of three thousand 
pounds. Poney Moore, a Negro minstrel man, an 
American and father-in-law of Charlie Mitchell, was 
my bondsman. In England a property owner is re- 
quired in such cases. But I gave him the cash to 
cover it. I already had been advised that I was likely 
to get a long term in the penitentiary, and I had made 
up my mind to jump the bail and go to the Transvaal, 
where I had been informed there was no extradition 
treaty. I had no ties binding me to England, and I 
could have just as good a time in South Africa. So, 
why not go there? 

As soon as I was free I took a boat to France. I 
didn't travel on an express boat. I went over quietly 
on a small ship, and lived in a small place outside 
Bordeaux. I could talk French all right, and I was 
careful to go out in public places only at night. 

I was sitting one night on a bench in the park in 
Bordeaux when a Frenchman came over and sat down 
on the other end of the same bench. After sitting a 

216 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



few minutes apparently thinking, he pulled out a re- 
volver, stuck it in his mouth and blew out his brains. 

That may have ended his thinking, but it compli- 
cated mine. Here I was trying to attract as little at- 
tention as possible, and this fellow had to pick me as 
an unwilling eye witness to his self-inflicted death in a 
public park. Of all the men in France, I had to be it. 

But I had gotten out of many tight places before. 
I merely got up and walked around the bench, which 
instantly was surrounded with excited men and 
women, and in the excitement I just strolled off. I was 
lucky. 

After that, I decided I had better be getting on my 
way to the Transvaal and safety. So I went to Madrid, 
and from there to Lisbon. On the boat I took from 
Lisbon I became very friendly with the ship's doctor, 
and at St. Helena he and I got into our riding togs 
and went on horseback out to see Longwood, where 
Napoleon died. 

No matter what business I was on in my travels, I 
always made it a point to know everything about a 
country I visited, and to make trips to the historical 
spots. I have followed Napoleon's career from his 
birthplace in Corsica to his tomb in Paris, with all the 
battlefields in between. Napoleon always had a great 
fascination for me. 

Finally, I arrived in Capetown, where I knew a lot 

217 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



of people. And there I got on a train for the Trans- 
vaal. I was wearing a cut-off gun on my right side, 
in a strapped holster so that it wouldn't stick on the 
draw, and I had a heavy knife on the other side. I 
had decided not to be taken back except as a dead man, 
and I was pretty sure that there would be some other 
dead man along with me. 

I kept my identity secret, of course, not using my 
own name, and I was mighty careful of strangers. 
Spies in that country would give up a man to the 
authorities for thirty cents. 

Well, when I got to Johannesburg, where I could 
live openly again, I began to have a wonderful time, 
for I met many men and women I had known in dif- 
ferent parts of the world. I had a bungalow on the 
grounds of the Hotel Victoria. 

There was a theatrical troupe in Johannesburg then, 
and I became very intimate with the star of the troupe, 
a beautiful red-haired Irish woman. To avoid com- 
plications I'll call her Jolly Jill Maddern. It is a 
peculiar thing, but Jolly Jill once brought a suit for 
libel and collected damages from a newspaper that 
printed an article to the effect that she turned me over 
to the police. And after thirty-three years the last 
time I heard of her, not so long ago, she was suing 
another paper that had raked up an old tale about 
me, on the grounds that she never had known me. 

218 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



She was married to an Irish barrister, and maybe is 
now, for all I know. It struck me as queer that she 
could sue the second newspaper when the first suit 
in which she claimed to be a friend of mine still must 
be a matter of court record in England. 

Anyhow, Jolly Jill was a glorious beauty, and with 
her and the other girls in the troupe I had a great 
time. I was playing cards and winning money, I was 
among friends, and I was happy. The only cloud on 
the horizon was the English law. 

The American Consul, a North Carolina boy, named 
Swingley, and a splendid chap, told me one day that 
I was being framed. He advised me to go and consult 
a Boer lawyer, whom he named. I knew my rights 
pretty well myself, but because the Consul was so 
nice about it, I went to the Boer lawyer. He told me 
what I already knew was the case. He said: 

"If they bother you here, shoot 'em." 

I was going to do just that. Well, after six weeks. 
Jolly Jill and the rest of the girls were going to leave 
at 12:30 a.m. Jolly Jill had suggested to me that we 
buy a roadhouse, five or six miles outside the city, and 
settle down. She had plenty of money, and I was far 
from poor myself. I had invited Jill and the rest of 
the company to a farewell dinner party, and I went 
to my bungalow to get into my evening clothes. 

I had been drinking an enormous number of scotch 

219 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



and sodas, even for me, and I was a trifle befuddled. 
That is, I wasn't watching out as keenly as I normally 
would have been. I was in my own home, amid 
familiar surroundings, and I forgot to be on guard. 

In undressing I had tossed my gun and knife on the 
bed, and was just reaching for my dress suit, when 
I got an awful crack over the head. And the next I 
knew I was in a Cape cart, with my head aching like 
an inferno, and a sick heart. I knew they had got me. 

My captors were Blodgett, the Chief of Police of 
Johannesburg, a former Scotland Yard man, and a 
Boer deputy. They had kidnapped me on their own 
for the favor it would get them with Scotland Yard. 
They had caused Jill to be told that I had left 
with another woman, and they let my pals believe 
that Jill had decoyed Ine over the border to be ar- 
rested. 

It happened that my captors and I were on the same 
train out of Johannesburg on which Jill and her troupe 
were traveling. My captors, feeling pretty sure of 
me now, were glad to meet Jill and the other girls. 
They wanted some fun. The first chance I had I said 
to Jill: 

"Use diplomacy and I'll get away." 

Jill was one of the smartest women I ever knew, and 
she fell right in with my plans. She was pleasant to 
my captors, and brought the other girls around. They 

220 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



had hampers of food and wine with them, and we all 
had a good time. 

I was creating the impression that I was reconciled 
to my fate, but, as a matter of fact, there wasn't a 
second when I wasn't planning to escape. I hadn't 
the slightest idea of going back to England, a prisoner, 
to stand trial. 

One of the first things I wanted to do was have a 
change of clothes. I was dressed like a gentleman at 
Palm Beach, white silk suit, and white shoes and 
everything, and I'd stick out like a sunflower in a 
bunch of sweet peas if I ever got loose on the veldt. 

Our compartment was next to the engine. My trunk 
was in the trailer, at the end of the train. I told Jill 
that I needed my riding clothes from that trunk, and 
she said she would do her best. 

Later she reported to me that there was no more 
chance of getting at the trunk than there would be of 
getting a suit case out of the hold of a transatlantic 
liner during a voyage. The trunk was buried under 
a mountain of luggage. I said I would have to go the 
way I was then, and take a chance. 

She gave me a bag containing about fifty sovereigns 
and half-sovereigns, and her revolver. We were about 
seventeen miles from Capetown then, and rounding 
one of the prettiest beaches in the world. I figured 
that it was then or never. 



221 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



I went into the washroom which was attached to our 
compartment, and the big Boer, not Blodgett, was out- 
side the closed door, talking to Jill. The train was 
running about thirty miles an hour, and was just out- 
side of Salt River station. This was eighteen miles 
out of Capetown. I knew the Chief of Police of 
Capetown had come to meet the train to read the 
warrant to me, so that when I was taken before a 
magistrate they could say the correct legal form had 
been followed. 

I pushed through the window, rolled a ways when 
I hit, and then lay still until the train was out of sight. 
I learned afterwards that the big guard stayed there 
looking at the country, and talking to Jill, with his 
back to the door of the washroom, until Blodgett ar- 
rived with officials from Capetown, who had come 
to escort me in. 

They were a surprised lot when they found the 
toilet empty. 

In the village there were groves of oranges, lemons 
and limes, five or six houses, a water tank and a coal 
shed. I had to pass through it to get away, and I was 
wondering if I could make it without being spotted. 

I almost did it. I was getting clean away when a 
woman saw me. She couldn't help but wonder about 
me on account of that white suit. 

But I couldn't do anything about it, and I went 

222 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



along at a trot for half a mile until I came to a cross- 
roads. One road led to the mountains, where the great 
apes live in caves, and the other road led to the sea. 

Now, the Boers say those apes are almost human 
and won't harm a human being. They put out guards 
when they come down from the mountains to raid the 
crops, and if their outposts fail to warn them of the 
approach of danger, they beat up the outposts. 

Boers also have told me that there are cases of apes 
running off with women, and of women being satisfied 
to remain ape women. But I never investigated those 
tales. In fact, I never got any nearer an ape in the 
wild state than I could help. And I didn't this time. 
I might have found safety in the mountains, but I 
also would have found the apes. I took to the sea- 
shore road. 

My thought was that once at the sea I could get a 
ship of some kind, and get away right. 

Well, I went running along that road to the sea- 
shore, with my gun in one hand and my bag of gold 
in the other, and I sweated and ached and panted, I 
can tell you. I was all out of condition from my soft 
life in Johannesburg. I'd been drinking and carous- 
ing, and taking it easy, and not getting as much horse- 
back riding and walking as usual. It was one hundred 
and ten degrees in the shade. And every step was 
agony. But I kept saying to myself: 

223 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



"Go it, God damn you! Go it!" 

And I went until I came to Salt River which isn't 
any wider than a street in New York, or any other 
city for that matter, but it was flowing like Niagara. 
It was the freshet season. There wasn't anything I 
could see for me to do except to go right across Salt 
River. That woman had seen me, and I knew the pur- 
suit would be hot on my heels. So I tied the revolver 
and gold in my shirt around my neck and in I went. 

I wouldn't have been so worried about the woman 
if I had known that on Table Mountain, which com- 
mands all that country, they had a telescope through 
which they could look about a hundred miles and see 
flies. I wouldn't have tried swimming Salt River, 
either, if I had known that a quarter of a mile up- 
stream from where I went into it there was a bridge. 
I learned those things later. 

I landed half a mile down the river from where I 
entered it, but on the other side. And now I ran for 
seventeen miles in that hot sun, still with the revolver 
in one hand, and the gold in the other. I thought every 
step of the distance would be the last I could take, but 
I just kept plugging. 

Then I came to a place where the ribs of boats 
were sticking out of the sand, and I figured it was 
an old fishing village. Afterwards I found out I was 
right. 

224 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



And I thought that there I might be able to get a boat 
and get out to sea. 

But I didn't see any signs of life until I came to a 
big ranch house. I could see a lot of youngsters play- 
ing around, and I knew I would have to take a chance 
there. The man who owned the place was a Hollander. 
That was a relief to me, as I knew he wouldn't care 
much about the British. When I arrived at the door, 
he said: 

"Come in, stranger." 

"I started out from Capetown at 4 a.m., and I've 
gotten as far as this on my stroll," I said. 

"You've done very well," he said, and if he meant 
to be sarcastic, he didn't look it. 

I saw a London "Graphic" lying on a table, and I 
nodded to it. 

"I'm a sketch artist," I explained. "Is there any 
way to telegraph to Capetown?" I added. 

"No," he said. 

"Oh, dear!" I said, "then I can't get in touch with 
my people there to let them know that I've decided 
to keep right on going. What's over there?" I said, 
pointing. 

"Bloomfontein is over there one hundred miles," 
he said. 

"Well," I exclaimed, "if you'll let me have a horse 
I think I'll ride over there." 



225 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



"It's a pretty long ride for a man to take alone," 
he said, "but I'll be glad to sell you the horse." 

"What I'd like," I said, gathering confidence, as 
everything seemed to be breaking for me, "is to buy 
two horses, with a saddle and canteen, and two or 
three pounds of bread. Then I'll be all set. I'm a 
Mexican, and we Mexicans always do our riding at 
night, and by changing from one horse to the other, 
we are able to cover a hundred miles very handily." 

"Here come a couple of men with guns," the Hol- 
lander said. "I wonder what they want." 

I knew that ended me. I had my revolver, but I 
knew that it wouldn't do me any good to shoot. Blod- 
gett and the big deputy had rifles. Even if I killed 
them, which wasn't very likely under the circimi- 
stances, I would have been caught anyhow. So I 
threw up my hands. 

When Blodgett came up to me over the sand pockets, 
he said to the deputy, "Put the shackles on him." 

The deputy put the shackles on me so hard they 
brought blood. And then Blodgett knocked me down 
with a blow of his revolver over my head, and jumped 
on me. 

"You bastard," he said, "you would try to ruin 
my reputation!" 

He was jumping on my stomach, and he had 
knocked out my right eye so that it was hanging down 

226 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



on my cheek. I've still got a slight cast in it. I was 
coughing up gouts of blood as big as marbles. The 
Hollander's wife came out, and said: 
"Oh, don't kill him." 

"He cut two ladies' throats in London and killed 
them," Blodgett said. And he jumped on me 
again. 

Of course, the Hollander's wife wasn't so sympa- 
thetic about a man who had cut the throats of two 
ladies, accent on the ladies, so she went back into the 
house. 

Blodgett and the deputy had made the trip after 
me in a Cape cart drawn by four ponies. They just 
tossed me into that cart as if I was a bag of meal. And 
before we started back, Blodgett shoved the barrel of 
his gun down my throat, so hard that it permanently 
injured my palate, and said : 

"You bastard, if it weren't for this driver here, I'd 
kill you now." 

"If you don't kill me, you yellow-bellied coward, 
I'll get you some day," I said. 

That was the unpleasantest ride I ever had — that 
trip back to the Salt River Village. When they got 
me there they dumped me out on the platform, still 
as if I were a freshly slaughtered hog, and sluiced 
me off with pails of water. I needed it. It was the 
second time in the progress of this Cutlas Case that 

227 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



I was red from head to foot. Only this time it was 
all my own blood. 

There's no doubt that I would have lost the sight 
of the injured eye if it hadn't been for a splendid doc- 
tor at the prison in Capetown, a humane man. He 
insisted on treating my wounds, against the wishes 
of Blodgett, and it was due to his care and skill that 
I still have the use of the eye. 

Blodgett told the police in Capetown that I was 
a wizard. They put me in a condemned cell, and set 
six men to guard me, three men each on four hours 
watch. 

The cells in the condemned block were in a one- 
story concrete building, which the sun transformed into 
a bake house. I was there for twelve or fourteen 
weeks. Every week I was taken to Court to be re- 
manded afresh, while waiting for the men to come for 
me from Scotland Yard. 

Each time they took me they would put me in a van, 
one man in with me, and two in back, watching me. In 
Court they always had four policemen to supplement 
the three heavily armed guards. Of course, the guards 
knew it was all silly, but Blodgett had impressed the 
Warden that I was a wizard. When the Scotland 
Yard men finally came for me, the Warden said: 

"Thank God, you're going." 

Once I was with the Scotland Yard men, of course, 



228 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



I was treated all right. Everyone is treated right by 
them — always. They never go in for any strong arm 
stuff. On the boat I had equal privileges with the 
other passengers, and the two Scotland Yard men and 
I took turns in buying the wine for dinner. 

The Yard paid me a great compliment by sending 
their two champion athletes 14,000 miles to escort me 
back to England. They were Inspector Trimble and 
Sergeant Nolan. And they treated me splendidly. 

This might be as good a place as any to say that 
in England a man is not arrested until there is a sure 
case against him. The police will let him run for a 
year, or two years, or even five or six years. But 
when they do nab him it really isn't worth while for 
him to hire a lawyer. 

When they arrest him they warn him that anything 
he may say may be used against him. And they don't 
give him any third degree, or beat him up, or ques- 
tion him while he is being kept without food, or put 
a stool pigeon in his cell. They don't do any of those 
tricks so popular with the police in this country. 

They hold him pleasantly in jail until his trial 
comes up, which usually is right away, and they turn 
him over to the penal authorities after that. 

The trip across to England was uneventful, except 
for one incident which amused me. A beautiful 
woman, who had been given a loving farewell by her 

229 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



sweetheart at Capetown, reported that her jewelry 
valued at $50,000 had been stolen from her trunk in 
her state-room. The Scotland Yard men asked me if 
I wouldn't help them by informing them if any persons 
who might have done the job were aboard. Of course, 
I wouldn't have done that. But I said: 

"Perhaps if you look into this you'll find that the 
lady hasn't seen her valuables since she came aboard, 
and if you look into it further you'll find that lover 
of hers has left Capetown." 

That seemed to me to be the simple solution of the 
problem at first glance. And it turned out that I was 
right. It always puzzled me why it should have fooled 
the detectives for a minute, but they are dumb and 
never know anything except through stool pigeons. 

When we got back I was taken again to Holloway 
Castle, where I waited three months more for my trial. 
There had been a terrific lot of publicity about the 
case, and Jolly Jill had been rotten egged oif the stage, 
because of the stories that she had lured me over the 
border. It was for such a story in a newspaper that 
she collected damages on her first suit for libel. No 
matter what damages she collected, they didn't repay 
Jill for the hurt she felt over the stories. They about 
broke her heart, for she was the rightest on earth. 

When I was arraigned before the Magistrate in Lon- 
don,, he didn't pay any attention to the claim advanced 

230 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



for me that I had been kidnapped out of non-extradit- 
able territory. He said: 

"I can't help how you were brought here. You 
are before me now, and I must deal with you accord- 
ingly." 

Of course, I have no doubt that I had wrong advice 
in jumping my bail. Second thoughts were best 
thoughts in this particular case, and probably I would 
have been better off if I had remained and faced the 
music. The English are jealous of their courts, and 
when I jumped my bail bond it became a point of 
honor with them to get me, no matter how long the 
job took, or how much it cost them. And, I've often 
thought my sentence was as much for jumping the bail 
as for what I did to Cockburn and Saville. 

My trial was before Sir Charles Hall, a very fair 
man, who was noted in England for the justice he dis- 
pensed. He wore his white wig and ermine-trimmed 
black gown, and to say I wasn't impressed would be 
to tell a lie. My barristers were Sir Edward Murphy 
and Sir Charles Carson, two of the most noted and 
expensive Irish barristers in England. The barris- 
ters, too, wear white wigs and black gowns. There 
is a solemnity and impersonality about the whole busi- 
ness that makes you think you are up against Society, 
and not up against the whims of an individual or a 
group of individuals. 

231 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



The judges are appointed for their knowledge of the 
law. They don't get their jobs because they are good 
vote getters. The solicitor who interviews the defend- 
ant is not the lawyer who appears in court. That is 
done by the barrister, who doesn't talk to the defend- 
ant. 

In England, the barrister doesn't get up and weep 
and rant, and talk to the jury about Christmas dinners, 
and poor starving families or any rot like that. He 
arises and very skilfully presents the law in the case. 
The Prosecutor presents his side, and the Judge 
charges the jury. It is all done in an orderly way 
that commands the respect even of a guilty man. 

There is only one break I got. That is, that my 
lawyers got enough delays by legal methods to ar- 
range it so that my case would be before Sir Charles 
rather than before another judge who couldn't seem 
to dig up anything except ten-year sentences. 

During my trial one incident particularly impressed 
me, and that was the attitude of Sir Charles when one 
of the Scotland Yard men produced a knife and said 
that I had it with me when I was arrested. Sir Charles 
berated that witness soundly, and told the jury not to 
consider the knife at all in finding a verdict, as that 
didn't have anything to do with the offense for which 
I was charged. 

The knife, as a matter of fact, was a very beautiful 

232 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



and valuable Toledo poignard, which I had picked up 
in Spain as a museum piece. It was nothing at all like 
the knife which I really carried, and on which I had 
depended as a weapon. I never saw the poignard 
again; it is with my other effects in the museum at 
Scotland Yard. 

One bit of enjoyment I got out of the proceedings 
was the appearance of Cockburn and Saville. They 
came to court in plaster of Paris casts, looking like 
emaciated ghosts of their former full-blooded selves. 

Charley Mitchell, the prize-fighter who chased John 
L. Sullivan all around the ring at Chantilly trying to 
get him to fight, and who never was able after that 
to get John L. into a ring again, was a great friend 
of mine then and afterwards. Mitchell who had had 
several run-ins with Cockburn previous to my row, 
had a lot of fun saying to him: 

"Well, have you had your belly full of bashing 
blasted Yankees? Ha, Ha! You don't look to me 
as if you were going to beat up many more." 

And he had many other things more profane and 
insulting to say to Cockburn. Cockburn and Saville 
never did have much respect from the sporting fra- 
ternity, and they lost it all when they insisted on going 
ahead and prosecuting the case against me. Every- 
one in the sporting world knew the inside story, and 
great pressure to let the matter drop was brought to 

233 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



bear on them. But they were burning with revenge, 
and they insisted on going after me in court even 
though it cost them what remained of their reputation 
among their friends. 

None of my pals ever would have done such a thing. 
I certainly wouldn't. Court wasn't the place in which 
we settled our differences of opinion then, and it isn't 
now. 

Finally came the day for sentence. And I got three 
years. I had just gotten my sentence and was wait- 
ing downstairs to be taken away when a big fat man 
came stumbling blindly down the spiral iron staircase 
which leads from the trial room in the Old Bailey 
to the detention pen below. I went over and took this 
big form in my arms. It was Oscar Wilde. He had 
just been sentenced to two years. As I already have 
recorded, I knew his brother Willie rather intimately. 

Well, I comforted Oscar, and he seemed to be in 
better spirits when we separated. As he was sen- 
tenced to only two years, he was to serve his time in 
a county jail. More than two years is penal servitude. 
Because I had a three-year stretch I had to go to 
a county jail for only the first nine months, which was 
served in solitary confinement. The only book reading 
you have for the nine months is the Bible, and you 
don't see anyone except the keepers, or screws. 

Then we who were serving longer terms were dis- 

234 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



tributed to the different penitentiaries. Now, there is a 
big difference in the English penitentiaries. There is 
Portland, where there is a stone quarry; there is 
Dartmoor, which has a hard reputation like Danne- 
mora in this country, and there is the Isle of Wight. 

When an English lag, or ex-convict, wants to say 
something is fine he says, "That's all to the Oil of 
Wight," or "That's a little bit of Oil of Wight." 

Everyone wants to serve time on the Isle of Wight. 
Some Jewish philanthropist announced that he wanted 
to build a place of worship for Jewish convicts and, 
being a very smart philanthropist, he built it on the 
Isle of Wight. That caused most convicts to say they 
were Jews, in hopes of getting to the Isle of Wight. 
But, of course, it didn't work. 

I was very anxious to make that haven of rest my- 
self. A keeper, who was a good fellow and very 
friendly to me, told me that he didn't think there was 
any way I could manage it. But I had an idea, and 
this is how it worked out. 

We all had to be examined by a doctor before we 
were sent to our final destination. When the doctor 
came to me, he said: 

"How old was your father when he died?" 

I looked sad, hesitated a minute, coughed slightly 
and replied: 

"He was very young — coupf ! Coupf !" 

235 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



"What did he die of?" 
I remained silent. 

"Come, come!" The doctor was a kind man, and 
he didn't want to hurt my feelings. "Did he die of 
tuberculosis?" 

I nodded yes. Father, of course, died at the age of 
ninety-five. 

It was the same way with the questions about my 
mother. I didn't blurt out that she died young, a vic- 
tim of tuberculosis. I showed by my manner that it 
was a sad subject with me. The doctor was extremely 
considerate. When he came to the question about in- 
sanity in my family, he was very gentle. And I think 
he almost wanted to pat me on the back, when with 
a downcast look, a sheepish air, and a couple of dis- 
creet coughs, I finally admitted that father was nutty. 

Anyhow, I kidded myself into the Isle of Wight. 
And that was what I was after. 

Of course, I knew when I began that I would get 
three months off for every year df good behavior, so 
that all I had to look forward to was twenty-seven 
months altogether. And that didn't look very hard 
to me. I'd faced some tough assignments in my life, 
but I'd taken them all philosophically. I figured this 
was intended to do a man good, and it probably would 
do me good. And it did. 

The British penitentiary is the greatest sanitarium 

236 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



in the world. I saw men come in who were caricatures 
of men. I saw them go out with at least the outward 
semblance of human beings. I saw the fat ones 
trained down, and the thin ones trained up. 

Every Sunday we had chapel — Blah! Blah! 
Blah! Well, men stand it in their ordinary lives, so 
I figured I could stand it in prison. And then we 
were turned out on the parade ground, and round and 
round we went on a concrete walk in companies of 
from ten to twenty men, with a guard for each com- 
pany. 

There's no cheap prison contract labor in England 
as there is in this country, where they do everything 
all wrong in matters of handling crime and criminals. 
The prisons here are old folks' homes. They're the 
damndest places, with motion pictures, and baseball 
games, and if you've got money and pull you can get 
assigned to the hospital, and stay there all the time 
you're in stir. And, if you want it, and have the 
money, you can get dope. And everyone can get 
newspapers, and tobacco, and keep up contact with 
the outside world, and have sympathetic old ladies 
weeping over them. 

In England the minute you're in the pen it doesn't 
matter how much money you've got, you're treated 
exactly like every other prisoner. You can't see a 
newspaper; you couldn't get a crumb of tobacco for 

237 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



a million dollars, and so far as dope is concerned, you 
might just as well yearn for a piece of the moon. 
The only books you read are from the prison library, 
and that library is carefully selected. I did a lot of 
reading myself, and it did me a lot of good. My 
favorite books then, and now, were "The Heart of 
Midlothian," by Sir Walter Scott, and "Vanity Fair," 
by William Makepiece Thackeray. I was in a good 
spot to judge books, and I'll say those are good ones. 

When visitors come to see you in an English peni- 
tentiary, the visitor sits back of a steel mesh screen, 
and you sit back of another one. Between the two 
screens is a passageway, three or four feet wide, and 
the screw walks up and down that. You and the visi- 
tor can hardly see each other, and you have to talk 
loudly to hear each other. If either of you say any- 
thing that doesn't strike the screw's fancy he says, 
'*Here, enough of that," and he's a fussy man. There's 
no trickery in an English pen. 

On week days, when the weather permitted, we 
worked at what is called farming. But it wasn't farm- 
ing. It consisted of digging holes and filling them up 
again. It was pleasant work in the open, and it helped 
keep us in wonderful physical shape. 

Over here, as I've said, you can work yourself into 
a soft berth in hospital if you know the ropes, but in 
England you can't. A couple of screws over there 

238 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



take your pulse and temperature before the doctor 
can see you. Even if the doctor wanted to, he couldn't 
help you. 

There's another point which involves those teeth 
about which I'm so proud. I always had been ex- 
tremely careful about brushing them, and I wanted 
a tooth brush. The doctor told me I didn't need one. 
''The diet you get here makes a brush for your teeth 
unnecessary," he told me. And he was right. The 
food contained no acids; it was just plain horse food 
— no sugar, but plain porridge and bread. 

In the morning, and at night, we got a portion of 
dry porridge in a can, water, and a piece of bread 
weighing four ounces, about the size of your fist. The 
midday meal was pea or bean soup and ten ounces 
of bread. That's all you had day in and day out, 
Sundays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

And you had to like it. I used to put a little water 
in my porridge, with a sifting of salt, and figure I 
had a meal for a king. I knew all the time how much 
good it was doing me. 

Out in the fields, if we had a good screw we didn't 
have to do much real work, just enough to keep in 
shape. Every once in a while a nabob Inspector in 
gold braid would visit each group on a tour of in- 
spection, and then we made the dirt fly a little harder 
for a few minutes. 



239 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



In winter we made mail bags and canvas hammocks 
for the Navy. We worked together, but we always 
were marched back to our cells for meals. We each 
had a cell, and we each ate alone in it, which seems 
to me to be a splendid idea. 

The sanitary equipment of the cell was simple. 
We had a little can in which to make water, but had 
to go to the public latrine in the morning for the rest. 
At first, new arrivals would have some difficulty get- 
ting their organisms to function regularly at the right 
time. But in a day or two, on that relentless diet, 
they fell in line. In case of accident, they could use 
the can. But there was no sickness after they had 
been there a while. They simply couldn't be sick 
with that life and on that diet. 

Those nights when we were locked in our cells, 
and I could read were the times I loved. Boy, you 
could read, and you could remember what you had 
read. Scott, Thackeray, Dickens, all the English 
classics and classics in all languages were in the 
library, and we were encouraged to use it. There was 
a school for those who couldn't read. 

The worst phase of the life was associated with the 
other prisoners. For the most part they were the 
lowest class of Englishmen, and I don't believe there 
is any lower human being. They were servile and 
cringing and cowardly and base and despicable to the 

240 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



last degree. If you didn't talk to them, you were 
a snob and they resented it, and if you did talk to 
them, you were looked down upon by them for making 
yourself as low as one of them. They would tell the 
screw on you in a minute for a minor infraction of the 
rules. I tried to be friendly, but I found it impossible. 
And finally, I just minded my own business. 

When I had served my twenty-seven months I was 
taken to Pentonville for discharge. A big man from 
the Yard was there, and he had us all up before him. 
It was he who gave us our tickets-of-leave, which are 
like the parole cards here. The tickets are like postal 
cards with the name of the prisoner and his record on 
it. You also are warned to keep out of bad com- 
pany, which includes women with red hats. 

When it came my turn, the big man said to me: 

"Tarbeaux, you're a little different sort of character 
from the rest of these men, and we're not going to 
bother you. The only things we are going to insist 
on is that you tell us where you are going before you 
go anywhere, and if you stop at a hotel one of our 
inspectors will call on you once a month or so. He 
won't bother you, and no one will know who he is. 
Good luck to you." 

I took the card and went out and got in a cab, and 
went right to my tailor's in London. He had a room 
all fixed up for me upstairs, with wine, and more food 

241 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



than eighteen people could handle. But I couldn't 
eat the rich food. 

I was in the pink. I could span my waist with my 
hands. My eyes were clear as crystals, and I could 
see a fly across the street, and hear him stamp. I 
felt grateful to that sanitarium. 

It didn't take me long to change into a silk hat, a 
cutaway coat, and patent leather shoes — ^not to men- 
tion a gardenia. The tailor tried to lend me five hun- 
dred pounds, but I told him I had plenty. Then I 
went around to the Cafe Royal. 

You'd have thought I was a hero returned from the 
wars. Charley Mitchell, "Kid" McCoy, Dick Burge 
and other friends were there. Everybody patted me 
on the back and offered to lend me money. I will 
cite one illustration of how things went. 

Charley Mitchell, Captain Graham, and Lord Ca- 
rewe and I went into Romano's restaurant to get a 
drink. Mitchell went to the bar to talk to Romano. 

"Who's that tall fellow with you?" Romano asked. 

"That's Frank Tarbeaux." 

"My friend! My friend!" Romano came out and 
shook hands with me, and insisted on buying cham- 
pagne. 

"This is your place, Mr. Tarbeaux," he said. "You 
can have anything you want here tonight and every 
night." 

242 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



Cockburn and Saville, he said, had beaten up his 
place, and nearly ruined it. 

"Right after I had that trouble with them," Ro- 
mano said, "I was drinking pretty hard. I was pretty 
bad and the doctor told me I would have to get away 
from my business and stop drinking for a while. So 
I took my wife, whom I call Mother, with me and 
went to my home in Rome. I had arranged to have the 
"London Telegraph" sent to me. 

"One morning I picked up the "Telegraph" and 
read what you had done to them. 

" 'Ring the bell, mother,' I said. 

"She rang the bell, and a bell boy came up. 

" 'Bring me a quart bottle of champagne,' I said. 

" 'What are you going to do?' mother asked. 

"I hadn't had a drink ever since I left London, 
and I had been feeling much better. Now I knew I 
was all well. 

" 'I am going to drink that bottle of champagne 
to the best friend I have in the world,' I told my wife. 
'I am going to drink the health of Mr. Tarbeaux.' 

"And I drank that bottle of champagne to you, Mr. 
Tarbeaux, feeling that indeed I was drinking it to my 
best and most valued friend. Now, I want you al- 
ways to consider this place your home." 

Romano continued one of my best friends. He had 
one of the best restaurants in the world, and when I 



243 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



was recovering from sprees, and couldn't eat, he used 
to send up to me the most wonderful jellied consomme. 
When I couldn't get any other nourishment down I 
could take that. 

Many persons felt just as Romano did, I found out, 
although perhaps not quite as keenly as he did. I 
was made quite a hero for what I did to Cockbum 
and Saville, and I never regretted it at any time since, 
either when I was suffering in South Africa, or when 
I was in the penitentiary, or now. I don't see how I 
could have acted any differently. 

As soon as I registered at a hotel in London that 
day, I sent my bags in, and drove right around to 
Scotland Yard and reported. An inspector called on 
me, merely as a part of routine. 

Almost immediately I met a chap named Weaver 
from America, a grafter. Weaver told me that he had 
a yacht over at Havre, and that he was planning a 
cruise around Mediterranean resorts, and that he 
thought he and I might help make it a profitable trip. 

I ran over to Havre and looked at the yacht, which 
was a pretty craft with a crew of about fifteen Scan- 
dinavian sailors, and told him I would take him on. 
Next day I went to Scotland Yard and told my friend, 
the big man, that I was going to the Continent, and that 
I didn't know what my exact destination would be 
after that. 



244 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



"That's perfectly all right, Frank," he said. "The 
Yard isn't interested in you as long as you are out 
of the country. Good luck to you." 

Weaver and I went aboard his yacht, and we had 
one hell of a trip. We went to Madeira, Spain, the 
Canary Islands, Tangiers, the Spanish Balearics, Al- 
giers, Malta, Sicily, Sardinia and up to Corsica. It 
was there I went to the house in Charles Street, Ajac- 
cio, and saw the room, and the bed, in which Napoleon 
was born. 

We had wild nights on that yacht. I remember 
one night in particular when we had all the women 
from a house in Bordeaux aboard on a party, and they 
got tired finally, and were crying and screaming to be 
taken ashore. French harlots are different from the 
American and English variety in that they don't drink 
while they are working. These hadn't been getting 
much fun, I expect, out of us doing the drinking. By 
us, I mean Weaver and me, and our men guests whom 
we were entertaining in various ways, including 
gambling games. 

The only obstacle to putting them ashore was a 
storm. And what a storm it was! The waves were 
running high and I didn't think much of the chances 
of any small boat in it. But Weaver got sick of the 
howls, and told his Captain to pile the females into 
a boat and dump them on shore. And that was done. 

245 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



It was a wet passage, and the girls drowned out the 
wind for a while. But finally they were gone. 

I'm afraid that now and then we didn't pay for 
stores we got at various ports. We almost were a 
bunch of pirates. But it wasn't my yacht, and I 
didn't have anything to do with running her. I was 
a guest, and I minded my own business as usual. I 
played cards now and then. 

When that cruise was over and I got back to London 
my nine months were up. But as soon as I had sent 
my bags into a hotel I didn't even get out of the cab, 
but directed him to the Yard. There I was shown into 
the big man's office. I handed him my card. 

"This wasn't strictly necessary, Frank," he said, 
"but I'm glad you've done it. You probably have 
saved yourself some annoyance, either in London, or 
some other city in England. No one will bother you 
after this." 

He tore up the ticket and tossed it into a fire which 
was burning on the grate, and that was the end of 
that. I shook hands and left him. 

And there's another point I might mention in con- 
nection with the English method of doing things. 
Years later when Sir Gilbert Parker was going to 
write that book about me he went to Scotland Yard to 
get my record, and he couldn't get a line of it. He 
told me that himself. He was a knight and a baronet, 



246 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



and had been a member of Parliament three terms, 
and had, of course, a great deal of influence besides, 
but he couldn't get any information about me from 
the Yard. 

In England when you've paid your debt to the 
state that ends it. They leave you alone until you run 
up a new debt. I honestly think that the United States, 
which after all is the greatest country in the world, 
might do well to model its criminal and penal pro- 
cedure on that of Great Britain. 

But, of course, there are bad cops in every coun- 
try. Two or three months after I had turned in my 
ticket I was walking in Golden Square, back of Picca- 
dilly, when a plain clothes man stepped up to me 
and said: 

"You're Tarbeaux." 

"Yes," I replied. 

"I'm going to take you to the Yard for failure to 
live up to your ticket," he said. 

"All right, you bastard, take me," I said. 

Well, that was too much for him, and he turned 
around and walked off. 

Several weeks later I saw him standing in Picca- 
dilly Circus with two big brutes. They may have been 
country cousins, or they may have been flatties, I 
don't know. He looked at me, and I could feel that 
he was talking about me. It made me madder than 

247 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



hell. I went back and, right in Piccadilly Circus, I 
said: 

"I've got a notion to punch you in the jaw." 

"No, no," he said, "don't do that." 

"Well," I said, "if you ever speak to me again, or 
if I see you pointing me out to anyone, I'll report 
you at the Yard." 

And I turned and left him. Well, can you imagine 
anything like that happening in this country? You 
certainly cannot. I have run into hundreds of graft- 
ing cops in this country, but that one I have mentioned 
is the only one on the whole British force anywhere 
that ever tried a shakedown that I know about per- 
sonally. 

Over there if you have served your time any citi- 
zen, including a cop, can get time himself for pointing 
you out. The least that cop would have gotten if I 
had squealed on him was dismissal from the force. 
England is the fairest country in the world that way. 

One night, a week or so afterwards, I went into 
Kirk's Pub. There were three or four pretty girls be- 
hind the bar, and I spent some money there, and en- 
joyed doing it. This night Kirk said to me: 

"Will you do me a favor? There's a Scotch boy 
back there who wants you to drink a bottle of cham- 
pagne with him." 

I went into the back parlor, and there was the cop 

248 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



I've been telling about. He was the Scotch boy who 
wanted to buy champagne. And he did. 

That's the last direct tie-up with the Cutlas Case, 
so far as it directly affected me. I've got that nick in 
the knuckle of the middle finger of my right hand, a 
slightly warped right eye, and a purple colored palate 
as a result of it. And I don't think I would be wear- 
ing glasses to read now if the sunlight on the white 
cell blocks on the Isle of Wight hadn't been so dazz- 
ling. As a matter of fact, when I was leaving for good 
the Governor asked me, as he does all prisoners, if I 
had any suggestions to make for the better running 
of the prison, and I replied : 

"You have a wonderful place, but I would suggest 
that you tone down the whitewash on the cell blocks, 
as I think it has hurt my eyes." 



249 



CHAPTER XVI 



LOOKING FOR REVENGE THE PRINCESS X 

I never forgave Blodgett, the Chief of Police of 
Johannesburg, for nearly butchering me. And at the 
first opportunity I went to Africa looking for him. I 
think I took the name of Johnston for the occasion. 
Anyhow, I didn't use my own name — ^never used it 
after the Cutlas affair, in fact. 

To my disappointment, Blodgett was held with 
Jamison and John Hays Hammond, and others, for 
their part in the Jamison raid in the Transvaal. After 
that he was chased out of the Transvaal and he went 
to Durban, Natal, on the east coast. I understood he 
started a newspaper there which he ran for some 
time, and published an article disparaging the Amer- 
ican Navy. The gobs then stationed there got him 
and threw him in the sea. It's a pity they did not 
drown him. When I heard this, I went to Durban, but 
he had left and I lost track of him. 

On this expedition I was living at one time at a 
mudhole, called a lake, about ten miles from Johannes- 
burg. Besides the lake there was a bunch of eucalyp- 

250 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 

tus trees. There were ten or twelve men there for 
hunting, but not for big game. There were no women 
in the place, either as guests or servants. Chinese 
boys did the work. 

I was hunting big game, although none of the other 
guests knew it, and my armament was a Winchester 
rifle and a pair of Colts. I also had two fine horses. 
I was just sitting there waiting to get word as to 
Blodgett's whereabouts. 

Naturally, in a place like that, men all living to- 
gether, we grew to know one another pretty well, and 
every one told who he was and where he came from. 
And I told each one all about not only the country he 
lived in, but even his native city or town. That made 
me a genuine character, but they said they would get 
me in the end. 

There was a man named Garde, they said, who was 
interested in race horses. He was then in Johannes- 
burg and Germantown. They were all waiting for 
him to put the test to me, too. When he returned, 
they said: 

"This is Mr. Johnston, Mr. Garde. He is a very 
well posted man, and he has told each of us all about 
the places we come from. Now, we want him to do 
the same for you." 

"Ha! Ha!" Garde said. "He can't do it with 



251 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



"Where do you come from?" he was asked. 
"From Colvelly, in Devonshire," was the reply. 
"I used to ride to hounds with Squire Taylor, of 
'Westward Ho!' " I said. "He was your Squire," 
Everybody at table exclaimed in chorus : 
"Didn't we tell you?" 

"How is it you come from Colvelly, and are in 
the horse business?" I continued. "That's a mining 
town, with houses perched like bird cages on the 
hills, which are covered with flowers. But you never 
see any horses, except those owned by the gentry. 
They even carry their dead on stretchers. And there's 
not another place like it in the world." 

Well, that made a great hit with all of them, but 
it didn't get me any nearer my game. And I never 
got any nearer to him. So far as Colvelly is con- 
cerned. Squire Taylor was a grand man — a real man 
among men. He had fine horses, and I first made my 
hit with him when I rode the toughest mount in his 
stable, an Irish hunter, and not only rode him to the 
queen's taste, but brought him back from the hunt as 
gentle as a kitten. 

The Squire had put me on the horse in the first 
place as a test. He had done it with many others, 
so his groom told me, and they all had either been 
thrown, or had quit in disgust. But the horse realized 
a few minutes after I was on him that I knew all about 



252 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



horses, and then some. I'm kind to horses, but I don't 
mind giving them a little harmless hell for their own 
good when they need it. That particular horse knew a 
cowboy had given him a ride. And after I gentled him 
home, he was my friend. 

So was Squire Taylor my friend, and after that I 
put in some hectic hours proving it. He was a great 
hand for taking chances. There weren't any jumps 
too high or too wide or too deep for him to try. And 
one day when there was a storm raging, he wanted to 
go out in a little sloop. No one would go with him 
except me. I didn't give a damn. I wouldn't have 
done it to please myself, but I was willing to help him 
get a thrill. So I went. 

I didn't know if we ever were going to get back to 
land or not, but I'd been in tight fixes before, so I 
wasn't worrying. When we did get back, the Squire 
and I were greater friends than ever. He was a 
grand man, was Squire Taylor, of "Westward Ho!", 
and I love to think about him, and of his quaint little 
town. 

As I always have to be doing something I bought a 
string of Galloways and raced a bit in Africa, and 
then I went back to Europe. This time I went to live 
in a big house in the Avenue du Bois, in Paris, with 
the Princess X . That was in '98. I was intro- 
duced to her by the Comtesse Marchetta in Monte 

253 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Carlo. The princess was beautiful and considered 
the finest dresser in France. She was wealthy, be- 
sides. We lived together for a number of years. In 
addition to the fine house she owned on the Avenue du 
Bois, she had a Villa at Eze next to Monte Carlo. 

At this time, one swagger restaurant after another 
in Paris was being turned into a variety of beer gar- 
den. It was in one of these places, the Cafe Weber in 
the Rue Royale, that I was accustomed to drink in 
the late afternoon with Lord Alfred Douglas, now the 
Marquis of Queensbury, and Oscar Wilde. Frank 
Harris had apartments in the Hotel du Rhin, in the 
Place Vendome. It was one of the old-fashioned, 
private hotels, where meals were served in the suites. 

It was at this time that I met Frank Harris again. 
After we had exchanged greetings, and I had asked 
him if it embarrassed him to be friendly with an ex- 
convict, and he had said it didn't, he asked me if I 
knew the whereabouts of Oscar Wilde. I told him I 
did, and that I was going to have a drink with him 
and Lord Douglas that afternoon, as usual. 

Harris said he was most anxious to have an undis- 
turbed talk with Oscar, as he wanted to get hold of 
Oscar's writings. I told him I would do what I could. 
And, as a result, Harris had a dinner in his hotel 
suite, at which were Harris, Harris's secretary, Har- 
ris's mistress, Oscar and myself. At that dinner Harris 



254 



FRANK TARBEAUX 

made the ver\^ advantageous deal by which he ob- 
tained Oscar Wilde's manuscripts. My understanding 
was that Oscar was badly in need of funds, and that 
Harris got the manuscripts dirt cheap. 



255 



CHAPTER XVII 
PITTSBURGH CONNING ONESELF OUT OF JAIL 

What I considered the neatest bit of con which I 
ever did occurred in 1912. In that year I went to 

Pittsburgh to meet a man named C S , who 

wanted to sell 50,000 acres of land which he claimed 
to own in West Virginia near White Sulphur Springs. 
I investigated and discovered that, as in the case of a 
great deal of mountain land in that State, the titles, 
because of squatters rights, were no good. 

C S and I, however, had an opportunity 

to exchange ideas. S , I decided, was a hypocrite. 

He was a deacon in the church, and posed as a model 
before his neighbors, and even before his wife and 

children. As a result of our acquaintance, S 

came to New York to see me and met some men who 
offered him a chance to make some easy money in a 
variation of the old wire tapping game. 

Instead of making money, S lost $40,000 and 

he was beside himself. He told me that it would ruin 
him if the story got out; he would be thrown out of 
the church, and his wife and family would leave him. 

256 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



If he could have let off steam to some one, his wife 
or some member of the family, that would have ended 
the affair, at least, so far as I was concerned. 

But he didn't find any such safety valve. His next 
door neighbor happened to be a former captain of 
police, then head of a private detective agency, whose 

name was M . S and M used to talk to 

each other as neighbors will, and it wasn't long be- 
fore S , unable to keep back the pressure of how 

he had been taken, told M all about it. 

M dragged S into his house without delay 

and drew up an agreement by which M was to 

get the money back, and get 50 per cent as his efforts. 
He assured S that there wouldn't be any pub- 
licity. 

Then M went to New York and saw George 

Daugherty, then a Deputy Commissioner of Police; 
and Daugherty put a half-dozen of his smartest detec- 
tives on the trail. They had a long chase, and were 
fooled many times, but after six months I was ar- 
rested, after a fight of sorts, in Charleston, South 
Carolina, and was taken to Columbia. After what I 
considered a farce of a hearing Governor Blease 
turned me over to the New York police. 

Although I was returnable on a writ on Charleston, 
they ignored that, and took me to New York. But be- 
fore that M , who was financing the case for the 

257 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



recovery of the money, took S to Charleston to 

identify me. Then M asked me for $50,000 to 

settle the case. I told him to go to hell. 

In New York it became more apparent that the 
Pittsburgh crowd were out to do their worst. After 
one hearing before Supreme Court Justice Ford, in 
which he made the statement that he did not think two 
other men, who also were under arrest, and I would 
get a fair trial in Pittsburgh, we were taken before 
another judge who signed the necessary papers for 
my transfer to that city. 

The prosecutor of Alleghany County had taken wit- 
nesses to New York who swore that the two other men 
had been in Pittsburgh. The witnesses were the house 
copper of the Fort Pitt Hotel, the bartender, and a 
room clerk. The two men had never been in Pittsburgh 
in their lives, but these witnesses were positive they had 

been there — and on the very day I interviewed S , 

into the bargain. 

Of course, that would have made it a conspiracy 
in Pittsburgh, if a crime had been committed. But 
the two other men proved their absence from Pitts- 
burgh, or the witnesses failed to prove their presence 
there, and they were released. 

I was taken to Pittsburgh myself as soon as the pa- 
pers were signed, and I had a hell of a time in the 
Alleghany County jail. It was the worst jail I ever 

258 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



was in. My business isn't exposing jail conditions 
anywhere. But that's a good jail to keep away 
from. 

I figured they were making it extra hard for me 
in the jail, which would have been tough enough any- 
how, because they wanted to sweat $50,000 out of me. 
I told my lawyer nothing much. I knew they didn't 
have any legal right to try me in Pittsburgh for an 
alleged crime which, if it occurred at all, took place 

in New York. But I had been informed that M , 

who was very influential, already had spent $10,000 
on the case, and that he was going to see it through 
or bust. 

I just kept my mouth shut, and listened to fellow 
prisoners downstairs asking not to be beaten any 
more, and to another prisoner upstairs getting ready 
to die, and then dying; and wondering how long any 
human being could survive on the dish water and 
potato parings which formed the diet. I kept quiet, 
but I was thinking hard. 

The newspaper boys told me that I was in for a 
railroading, and all the signs certainly pointed that 
way. So when my case finally came to trial, and I 
was convicted for a conspiracy that never took place, 
I wasn't surprised when the Judge handed me two 
years. 

I was ready for it. I had a long and confidential 

259 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



talk with my attorney. First I pledged him to the 
most solemn secrecy. 

"It would ruin me if you told anyone living what 
I am going to tell you," I said. 

After I had hung that on good and thick so it stuck, 
I told him that I had property valued at $200,000 in 
the State of Washington, and that it was all I had. I 

was pretty sure that he would go to M with the 

information. 

After that I took my transfer to Woods Run Peni- 
tentiary pretty cheerfully. I had everything I wanted 
there, from caviare to Stilton cheese. It was a fine 
place and I lived well. 

I was hardly settled down comfortably, however, 

before my lawyer came over with M . Despite 

his promise of secrecy to me my attorney had told 

M of the $200,000 in property in Washington 

because it was "for my best interests." And now they 
had a plan. They told it to me in the deputy's office, 
with the deputy present. 

They told me that if I would assign over the prop- 
erty in the State of Washington to M , for one 

dollar, that M would get me a pardon. He and 

my lawyer would leave that same night for Harris- 
burg, the capital, and be back the following night with 
a pardon. I said to M : 

260 



FRANK TARBI1\UX 



"How can you go over the heads of the Board of 
Pardons?" 

"Frank," he said, "I put you in the can, and I can 
take you out." 

"Oh," I said, "will you surely promise me you 
won't fool me if I sign all my property away?" 

I went through a most heart-rending scene for about 
two hours. I talked with my la^s•^-er over in a cor- 
ner, and I talked with them both togetlier. and I 
pleaded with them to assure me that if I gave them all 
I had in the world they would keep their words and 
turn me loose. They said they would. 

All during this scene the deputy warden, who was 
a real man and kind-hearted, kept giving me the 
wink behind their backs, and shaking his head at me. 
He didn't want to see me sign away my S200.000. 

My la^Ayer would tell me solemnly that the only 
thing for me to do was sign the papers, and I would 
be almost convinced. Tlien I would weaken and 
plead. Finally, with the deputy warden shaking 
his head sadly, I signed. 

M and my attorney left for Harrisburg, and 

they sure enough showed up with the pardon the next 

day. M took me do^Mi to his office and gave me 

§200 for pocket money. He said in fatherly tones: 

"Frank, my office here is always open to you. Come 
and see me any time you are this way. I will never 

261 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



take another of these cases. I had to finance this 
whole thing, and it cost me more than $10,000." 

Of course, I didn't have any property in the State 
of Washington. What I had I wasn't telling any law- 
yers about. I was told later that M , who now 

is dead, would have killed me if I had ever returned 
to Pittsburgh during his lifetime, which I didn't. 

I was told that this case cost Alleghany County 
$25,000. 

This was the only time I ever received a sentence — 
as I don't count that time on the Isle of Wight. I beat 
all other cases before they got to the sentencing point. 
I thought that was pretty good — conning one's self 
out of a can. That might be said to be the last word 
in con. 



262 



CHAPTER XVIII 



MADAME JESUS ODDS AND ENDS OF AN ACTIVE LIFE 

A man who is remembering the episodes in an ac- 
tive life that covers more than seventy years gets a 
series of mental pictures, which are not related in 
point of time. While I have run a main narrative 
through this book, I have taken the liberty of insert- 
ing anecdotes out of their chronological order. 

One of the pictures that comes to mind every now 
and then is that of the house run by Madame Jesus, a 
Portuguese, in Funchal, Madeira. I always visited 
Madame Jesus when I was in Funchal. She kept 
only very young girls, and they were extremely 
pretty. 

She had colored cards printed, something like the 
holiday cards that are popular in this country around 
the holidays. The cards contained sample photo- 
graphs of the girls, and the inscription: 

"Madame Jesus keep pretty girls: they do every- 
thing." 

Of course, to the Latin, the use of the name Jesus 
is not sacrilegious. Many Mexicans are named Jesus. 

263 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



But it always impressed me as grotesque that this 
woman should have this name. 

Some men haven't guts. They will fight if they 
are cornered, but even a rat will do that. Guts is a 
hard word to define, and guts are a rare commodity 
among men. When I think of guts I think, oddly 
enough, of "Grasshopper" Sam, because he didn't 
have any. 

"Grasshopper" Sam was standing back of "Wild 
Bill" Hickok one night, stealing Bill's winning bets on 
the faro table, whenever he had the chance. Bill no 
more would have thought of shooting Sam, or anyone 
like him, than he would have thought of hurting a 
baby, but Bill finally lost his patience, and said to 
Sam: 

"You keep out of this, or I'll bat you over the 
head." 

"Grasshopper" Sam stayed right where he was, and 
at last Bill made a swipe at him with his gun. "Grass- 
hopper" Sam ducked down under the table, but as he 
ducked he grabbed Bill's ace bet on his way down. 
Now, Sam didn't have any guts or he couldn't have 
been stealing Bill's bets in the first place. And when 
he took the money on the way under the table he did 
something that no man with guts would dare do. 

One time, with some pals, I was riding on a train 
through the Northwest. It was before Prohibition, 

264 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



but the State of Washington was dry. And just be- 
fore the train crossed the state line, the chief steward 
gathered up all the miniature, single drink, whiskey 
bottles to lock them up. No drinks could be served 
in Washington. 

I asked him if he wouldn't wrap up a few of the 
little bottles, so that my pals and I wouldn't die of 
the horrors going through the dry state. He was very 
surly in his refusal to grant my request. My pals 
wanted to know what we could do about it. 

"That's easy," I said. "All you have to do is fol- 
low my directions. Go to the steward," I said to the 
smartest one, "and say something like this to him: 

" 'You've been such a fine steward that I don't like 
to see you in trouble. But do you know that dis- 
tinguished looking gentleman back there in Seat No. 
So-and-So? Well, apparently you did something to 
make him mad. Do you know who that gentleman is? 
Well, he is the principal stockholder in this railroad, 
and he's a vindictive old cuss, and now he's out to 
get your scalp. If I were you I'd try to square myself. 
I wouldn't be telling you this if I didn't think you 
were a good steward and doing your best, and that 
the old crank in there must be wrong.' " 

My pal went and saw the steward as directed. And 
it wasn't long before the steward came to me, acting 
as humble as it is possible for a steward to act. 

265 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



"Fs awful sorry, sir," he said, "if I done anything 
I shouldn't, and I hope you will excuse me. If there 
is anything I can do to square myself you just ask 
me." 

"Why," I said, "just wrap up those bottles you've 
got there in the closet and put 'em in my bag, and I'll 
forget you ever annoyed me." 

"Oh yes, sir. Thank you, sir." 

And the steward put his whole stock in my bag, 
and we had plenty to drink through the dry state of 
Washington. 

My missus had a habit for many years of saying: 

"But, Frank, you can't do that." 

My life has been spent doing things other persons 
considered impossible. If there had been any such 
word as "can't" in my working vocabulary, I wouldn't 
have gone very far. 

At the time the then President Coolidge was going to 
Cuba, I wanted to go there. From Chicago, where my 
wife and I were living, I found that all the reservations 
on the boats were taken for three or four weeks ahead. 
It didn't seem on the face of it that there was any 
chance for me to get passage. But I said that I was 
going, anyhow. 

"Well, Frank, this is one time you'll find out that 
you can't get away with it," my wife said. "Why on 
earth do you try? I think you're crazy." 

266 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



"Lots of others have thought I was crazy," I said, 
"including myself. But the next time you hear from 
me it'll be by wireless from the boat bound for Cuba." 

I took the Panama Limited from Chicago to New 
Orleans, and the moment I arrived I threw my luggage 
into a cab, and had myself driven around to the 
United Fruit Company's offices. I asked for the head 
man, and the manager came out. 

"I got a wire in Chicago from Washington direct- 
ing me to get over to Havana," I said. "The wire ar- 
rived so late that I only had time to pack a bag and 
catch the Panama Limited. Now I've got to get there. 
I am on the Coolidge Committee, and I thought you 
might be able to help me." 

"Come with me," the manager said. 

And he took me in his own automobile to the ship, 
and introduced me to the purser, and I wound up with 
one of the best state-rooms on board. To my wife I 
wirelessed : 

"Well, here I am." 

I love to discharge employees on steamships and 
trains. It used to annoy my wife before she got used 
to it, but now she doesn't pay any attention. I like 
to look at a steward or a porter in a haughty way, and 
say: 

"Well, you'd better make the best of it because this 
is going to be your last trip." 

267 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



When you stop to think of it, there's no way for 
the porter or the steward to teU whether I'm one of 
the chief stockholders in the line or not. Even the 
captain wouldn't know that. People have to believe 
what you tell them about yourself. And in my time 
I've caused a lot of troubled thoughts to servants who 
weren't efficient or polite. 

Once, on a ship bound from Ceylon to England, I 
became friendly with an aide-de-camp to the Governor 
of Ceylon. I had joined the ship at Malta. He was 
a charming chap, and we passed a deal of time in the 
smoking room drinking together. 

Samson, the Strong Man, also was a passenger, 
and he was winning a good deal of money playing 
cards with the passengers, and talking about it a bit. 
My friend, the aide-de-camp, said to me one day: 

"You're an American. Perhaps you understand 
this game of poker. Do you?" 

"I know a little about it," I said. 

"Well," he said, "for God's sake, can you win from 
this strong bird? He has us all crazy." 

"I'll try my luck," I said. 

I was introduced to Samson, and I took several hun- 
dred pounds from him. At the end of the voyage, 
Samson was not so gay. When he was asked how it 
happened that he lost, he said : 

268 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



"Veil, I guess it was a case of brains against 
strength, and the brains won." 

I've seen a lot of those strong men in my travels — 
men who had muscles that they could dance up and 
down like snakes. And I've seen them after they got 
old with folds of fat, where the muscles once were, 
hanging in festoons all over them. 

I was a passenger from Vancouver to Shantung, 
China, with a load of Chinese coolies, who had been 
used by the British in the World War. They had been 
shipped from England to Quebec on freight ships, 
and then freighted across Canada by rail. When they 
were disembarking our boatload in Shantung, I no- 
ticed only one Chinaman was ill. He was being car- 
ried ashore on a stretcher. 

"What's the matter with that one?" I asked the 
ship's doctor. 

"Oh, he ate some bread, and it soured on his 
stomach," was the reply. 

That interested me because I already had figured 
that white men could not have traveled for a month 
battened down in ships, and cooped up in sealed 
trains like those Chinamen, without many of them get- 
ting sick, and some of them going crazy, and others 
bursting out into some kind of hell. I gathered from 
the doctor that as long as those Chinamen stuck to their 
rice diet they were all right, but as soon as they left it 

269 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



they were all wrong. My information was that three 
or four hundred thousand Chinese were transported 
back to their homes that way by the British after the 
war. The allies had these Chinks digging trenches 
and similar work. 

Those granite piers at Shantung are worth mention 
any time as one of the sights of the world. They were 
built by the Germans, and there are miles of them. 

Speaking of the Chinese reminds me of the Jap- 
anese. I know that the Japs know more about the 
defences of this country than any American Army 
Officer. Every Jap reports back to his Government 
everything he sees. But try and take a camera 
ashore in Japan. It can't be done. 

Everyone who knows me knows my distaste for 
missionaries. I think they are a silly looking band 
of apes in the first place, and I don't like anything 
about them in the second place. I suppose they say 
to the people back home: 

"My wife and I will go to that terrible country, and 
suffer." 

As a matter of fact, I never saw any instance in my 
residence in all countries of the world where the mis- 
sionaries weren't living like kings, with plenty of na- 
tive servants. 

Once, going to Manilla, there was a young minister 
who was accompanying two elderly ladies on a tour 

270 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



of the world. When we arrived at Manilla all the 
hotels were full up, and the young minister went to a 
missionary of his faith there, and asked if the two 
ladies and he could not be taken care of for a night 
or two. 

"We haven't any room," was the reply he got, so 
he told me. "And they must have fifteen or twenty 
rooms in the house and eight or ten servants," he 
added. 

"They're like that all over the world, my boy," I 
said. 

The missionary didn't want him to see how well 
they lived. The missionary business is a racket with 
no smart people in it. 

The most terrible fright I ever had in my life was 
in Paris. I called on a lady there, and a maid showed 
me into the drawing room. While I was sitting, wait- 
ing for my hostess, a full grown leopard walked in. 
That was the most awful sensation I ever had in my 
life. I'd hunted big game everywhere, fought with 
Indians and bad men, but I never had any sensation 
approaching the one that overwhelmed me when I 
saw that big leopard, in that Paris drawing room. 
And me without a gun. 

My agony ended when the lady came in and petted 
the leopard on the head. It was the time when Sarah 
Bernhardt had made queer pets popular in Paris, and 

271 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



the leopard was this particular lady's idea of what 
was quaint in the way of livestock around the home. 

In my travels from one country to another during 
many years, I never have had any troubles with the 
customs, except once in France. When I ran over to 
France from England, when I was making my home 
in London, I used to bring in Havana cigars and wax 
vestas for the boys. They always were glad to see me, 
because good cigars and good matches were almost 
impossible to get in Paris. 

I finally was nailed by the customs and I thought 
for a while that I was going to spend some time in a 
French jail. I had succeeded a dozen times before, 
but this time I lost. However, by spending a few 
thousand francs I got myself out, but minus the cigars 
and the vestas. And the boys were disappointed. 

On several occasions when I have come into the 
United States from Canada since Prohibition I have 
brought three bottles of Scotch. I put the three bot- 
tles pyramid fashion on top of everything else in my 
bag, and when the Custom's inspector asked me if I 
had anything contraband, I said, "Nothing," and 
opened the bag revealing the three bottles. In each 
instance, the Custom man grinned, and said, "All 
right." 

I never pass the Grand Theater, at Twenty-third 
Street and Eighth Avenue, New York, without think- 

272 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



ing of Josephine Mansfield, who innocently was the 
cause of the shooting of Jim Fiske by Ed Stokes. Jo 
was an unusually beautiful girl who came from Cali- 
fornia to New York, and met Jim Fiske. 

Fiske built the Grand Theater in 1868, and Jo had 
her proscenium box there, when she was at the height 
of her glory. I knew her intimately in Paris after- 
wards, where she had a palatial home, and she told 
me the following story. 

She said she did not care for Fiske, who was Jay 
Gould's partner, but that she was in love with Stokes. 
Fiske used to give her information about the market, 
and she used to hand it along to Stokes. Fiske got 
wise in some way how things were between Josie and 
Stokes, but he didn't say a word, or let on in any way 
that he knew. He merely gave Josie some wrong in- 
formation about the stock market, and Ed Stokes acted 
on it, and got a terrible bumping. 

Stokes was a hot-headed sort of man, according to 
Jo, and he felt that Fiske had given him a dirty deal. 
So the shooting followed. After that, Jo had to get 
out of the country. I don't know whether or not this 
version of the shooting ever was printed. It's what 
Jo Mansfield told me. 

Sleighing on the Volga River is wonderful. Jo 
was afterwards the mistress of one of the Grand Dukes 
of Russia, who gave wonderfully swagger parties at 

273 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



his home, as all of the nobility and gentry of Russia 
did at that time. The men would congregate at one 
anothers' homes and the host's mistress, who would 
be the only lady present, was hostess. They all spoke 
French, so it was all right for me. They were heavy 
drinkers and gamblers. Jo had me come on to Peters- 
burg. We arranged everything by letter. She intro- 
duced me to her Duke, on my arrival, as her wealthy 
cousin from the cattle and mining country of Amer- 
ica. I had a wonderful, pleasant and profitable time. 
I spent most of my winter in Russia. I went from 
Moscow over the trans-Siberian Railroad to Mukden, 
China. 

I purposely have been reticent in this book about 
love affairs I have had, because many of the affairs 
were with ladies who are still alive. In the case of 
one of them, who still is collecting alimony from her 
multi-millionaire husband, I was approached by a 
then captain of police in a cafe in New York several 
years ago. 

"Do you want to make some easy money, Frank?" 
he said. 

And then he told me that all I had to do was help 
him make a case against the lady in question, and I 
would be well paid for it. 

"Everyone knows you lived with her some years 
ago; what's the difference?" he said. 

274 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



A repetition of what I called the police captain 
would be of no benefit to anyone. Anyhow, he went 
out of the cafe, and came back with a police lieutenant 
who now is in the private detective line. And I was told 
that I was under arrest for something or other, and 
that I was going to be taken to Police Headquarters. 

I took both of the men over to Considine's, and we 
sat and drank and talked. I pretended to be drunk 
and out of my wits, and when I half dozed oif I 
would mutter a lot of profane and uncomplimentary 
things about the police. Everyone in Considine's, 
except the police, were wise to the game. Our waiter, 
who could hardly keep a straight face to serve us, 
was retailing to all the boys what Frank Tarbeaux 
was calling the cops. And they were dying with joy. 

It was a great joke, from our point of view. I had 
a pal to rouse me up when I started rambling about 
what bastards (or worse) the police were, and then 
I would act as if I just had come out of an alcoholic 
coma, and take another drink, spilling some of it 
down my clothes. 

Of course, in the morning they let me go. For a 
long time after that, it wasn't unusual for one of the 
boys to recall that evening when I was berating the 
cops. 

The boys don't hate the police. The police are 
paid for their job. What the boys hate are the "un- 

275 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



paid policemen", the stool pigeons, or informers. An 
"unpaid policeman" usually doesn't live long. 

There's a funny fact about the con game which I've 
never seen mentioned in print, and that is that a miser 
doesn't squeal if he loses his money. You'd think he'd 
howl his head off, but he doesn't. 

Lawyers are the easiest marks I know. They're 
such an opinionated lot that they are easy to take. 
I've taken lots of them, in my day. I'm not speaking 
of smart criminal lawyers, some of whom know as 
much, or more, than the boys themselves. I'm refer- 
ring to the general practitioner of law. 

I can tell any waiter anywhere in the world who 
has had Ritz training. In restaurants I say every now 
and then to a waiter: 

"Ah, I see you've had Ritz training." 

And the answer always has been, "Yes, sir." 

I knew Charlie Ritz very well indeed. I knew him, 
as a matter of fact, in the Kursaal in Baden-Baden, 
first as a waiter, and then as a maitre-d' hotel. After 
that he was proprietor of the Hotel Minerva in Baden, 
and then he went to the Savoy in London. Followed 
the Ritz-Carlton in London, the Ritz in Paris, the 
Grande in Monte Carlo, and the Quirinal in Rome. 
He was the greatest hotel man I ever knew, and 
waiters trained under his system are the best in the 
world. You can't mistake them. 



276 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



One of the tightest places I ever was in was not on 
the frontier. It was in Jack's restaurant in New York 
years ago. At that time I was living in the old Hotel 
Plaza, which was on the site of the present hotel of that 
name. I also had a room in another hotel, a frame 
building which stood on the southeast corner of 
Fortieth Street and Sixth Avenue, where the Beaux 
Arts is now. 

That frame hotel was a favorite rendezvous for 
lovers. It was a discreet place, surrounded by a 
garden. And it housed a big poker game. It burned 
down, and I believe a good 'bit of matrimonial di's- 
cord resulted from the flights into the street of the 
supposedly married guests, also several deaths of 
men and women, who were not supposed to be 
there. 

I had been playing poker when I started one morn- 
ing to walk from this hotel to the Plaza up Sixth 
Avenue. I was tired and hungry, and so I stopped 
in Jack's, which then was an oyster house with saw- 
dust on the floor. It has since been closed by Pro- 
hibition. It was one of the famous restaurants of 
New York, and a gathering place for those who 
figured in the life of the town. 

Jack Dunstan and his brother had been waiters in 
Burns' Restaurant. Al Burtis, a pal of mine for years, 
staked Jack, and that is how he started his eating 

277 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



place, and made the milHon dollars he left when he 
died. 

I ordered ham and eggs that morning. They were 
cleaning up the place, getting ready for the breakfast 
trade, and the waiter was pretty surly. He made it 
clear that I was a nuisance. I never was a person to 
take an insult from anyone, so I got up, and knocked 
the waiter down. 

In a minute there were a dozen waiters charging at 
me. I knocked over the first who arrived, and then 
picked up an umbrella with a steel rod I had with 
me. I used that umbrella with both hands and ripped 
up. It probably saved my life. 

Jack came into the mix-up, and was getting ready 
to hit me when I drove it into his groin and ruptured 
him. But I would have gotten more than I was look- 
ing for if some policemen hadn't run in. I never was 
so glad to see policemen in my life. And I spent the 
rest of that morning in a cell in great contentment. 
In the same cell with me was the famed Billy Mc- 
Glorey. I figured it was a lot more comfortable than 
a cot in Bellevue, or maybe a slab in the morgue. 

I've never forgotten Dune Kerr's reply to a young 
English tenderfoot who asked where were all the 
Indians that were supposed to be in the West. Dune 
said: 



278 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



"I haven't lost any Injuns, and I ain't lookin' for 
enny." 

And those were the sentiments of all of us. 

The last time I was arrested in Chicago — merely 
held for questioning — a lady reporter asked me what 
I did before I went into "this profession." 

"I used to be a ladies' hairdresser," I said. 

You could have floored me with a feather when I 
saw big headlines in the Chicago newspapers next 
day that I had been a woman's barber. 

A cop came to my cell on that same occasion. 

"What are you in for?" he asked. 

"For stealing a ham," I said meekly. 

"What for?" he asked. 

"Because I was hungry," I explained pathetically. 
"I was going to look for a place to eat the ham when 
they arrested me and brought me here." 

I always wondered what the other cops told that 
one when he related what he had learned about Frank 
Tarbeaux's most recent offense against the law. 

I found out by long experience that if you wish to 
keep dinner guests to play cards later the best of all 
wines to serve them is Burgundy, still not sparkling. 
Burgundy makes a man feel rich and contented, and 
satisfied. Champagne, on the other hand, makes a 
man feel rich and restless. A man who has drunk 
Burgundy is happy to sit down and play at cards. A 

279 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



man who has drunk champagne wants to go out and 
look them over. 

Chinese servants are the best in the world. It's too 
bad they are unavailable in the United States. When 
I was living in London, both at Portland Place and in 
Regent's Park, I had Chinese servants. I got my first 
boys by giving the door man at the Chinese Embassy 
a sovereign, and asking him to send me a couple. 

When one of my boys w^ent back to China, or some- 
where, it never bothered me. His place automatically 
was filled. They never drank any of my wines or 
liquors, which is the great trouble with servants in 
England, and they were perfect in every way. 

I used to get home very late in the morning, and 
I did not get up, of course, until late in the day. I 
never would have known that my Chinese boys took 
advantage of that period to be out on their own busi- 
ness, down to Lime House and East India docks, if 
one of them hadn't got arrested. A bobby woke me 
up and told me the boy was under arrest, for some 
trivial offense, and I dressed. I went to an attorney, 
a friend of mine, and had him sprung. The bobby 
told me he was always saying he must get home to 
make master's breakfast. He never knew that I knew 
he had been arrested, or that I knew that he went out 
when I was asleep. 

280 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



An Australian Chinaman I knew married an Irish 
girl, and one day he said to her: 

"Nellie, play old Ilish song that makes my old Ilish 
heart bleed." 

To a Chinaman a promise is more binding than an 
oath with us. He never breaks his word, and he can't 
understand anyone who doesn't keep promises. Harry 
Weeks, who came from New Orleans, said to a Chinese 
servant of mine: 

"Lend me a dollar. So help me God, I'll pay you 
tomorrow morning, if I live." 

The Chinaman came to me the next day, and said: 

"Hally Wick— him dead." 

Harry hadn't paid him : that was all. But I couldn't 
convince the Chinaman that Harry wasn't dead. 

Twelve years ago I landed in Chicago from the 
West. After the cabby, who picked me up at the sta- 
tion, finally got me home hours later, he rang the bell, 
and said to my wife, pointing at me: 

"Does he live here?" 

When she said I did, the cabby shook his head 
solemnly, and said: 

"Well, by God, he's a bird." 

I've always maintained that nothing is impossible. 
A German Baron and I were stuck in Cairo once. It 
was Spring and all the boats — North German Lloyd, 
P. & 0., and all the rest that run through the Suez 

281 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF 



Canal — were booked full for weeks ahead with pas- 
sengers returning to Europe. We wanted to get back 
right away, but we were told that we'd be lucky if we 
could get away within three or four weeks. 

"We've got to wait," the Baron said. 

"Come with me," I said. "We'll throw our bags 
into a taxi, and get a train for Port Said. There, we'll 
go aboard the first ship that comes along." 

"You're crazy!" he exclaimed. 

We went to Port Said, and registered at the Con- 
tinental Hotel. To the porter I said: 

"Leave our heavy luggage down here. We're going 
to Europe on the first boat through the canal. When 
one is sighted, let me know." 

Shortly afterwards he told us a North German 
Lloyd steamship was in sight, and I told him to call 
us in time to get the luggage aboard. The Baron said: 

"You're a stubborn man." 

Thirty-five or forty years ago on all German boats 
every officer was allowed to sell his cabin. There 
was no purser; the chief steward filled his functions. 
Often I've given a chief steward $50, and gotten the 
bridal suite. I didn't know just how this was going to 
work, but I did know that the worst we could get, once 
we were aboard, was a couch. We had plenty of 
money, of course. 

There was nothing to stop us going aboard, and 

282 



FRANK TARBEAUX 



there was no one to put us ashore when the ship sailed. 
So we waited until we were well out in the Mediter- 
ranean, and then I went to the steward. 

"Here's a ten-pound note," I said. "I want you 
to fix us up. We were away out in the desert, and 
failed to get tickets." 

"What?" the steward asked. "Here without reser- 
vations? We're full." 

"Is that a fact?" I said, knowing we were well out 
at sea. 

The steward took us up to the captain, a big good- 
natured German. 

"Captain," I said, "we were out in the Sahara, and 
we drove in just in time to catch this boat. We're 
sorry if we did wrong, but knowing the fine hospitality 
of the German boats we didn't think you'd throw us 
overboard." 

"You're here, and you can't walk on water,'* the 
Captain said. 

"No," I said, "only one feller ever got credit for 
that — and I've always had my doubts about him 
doing it." 

"Haw! Haw!" the Captain laughed. "Take these 
gentlemen," he ordered the steward, "and fix them 
up." 

We had a nice cabin all the way back to England, 
and I kidded the Baron all the way about letting a 

283 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 



cowboy from the United States show him how to get 
a ride on one of the boats of his own country. 

Hard-boiled plovers' eggs are a great delicacy in 
England. They are gray-blue with round specks, 
and the white looks like gray jelly. They are tasty 
and nice, a favorite in luncheon baskets for the Derby, 
and the other big meets in England. All the swell 
caterers have them. But the boys tell me that plovers' 
eggs really are rooks' eggs, and rook is the English 
name for crow, of course. So, plovers' eggs are only 
another racket. There are plenty of rooks and rook- 
eries, but the plover is a rare and scary bird. 

A truffle to be good must come fresh from the 
ground. You can't get good ones here. There is no 
fish like the fish out of the North Sea. And caviare 
is good only in Russia. 

One of the shrewdest women, and the best money 
getter I ever met of the feminine sex, was Lilly Lang- 
try. She entertained extensively at her beautiful home 
at 21 Pont Street, London, and on her yacht, "White 
Lady." I made many cruises on the "White Lady" 
and frequently was a guest of hers at her home. Mrs. 
Langtry also had a fine racing stable, and we had 
lots of success in connection with it. 

When I live in America, I always winter in the 
South, Cuba, Florida, the West Indies, or sometimes 
California. 



284 



CHAPTER XIX 



BOULDER CITY 

I stopped off in Boulder a few years ago. When 
I last had seen it there was nothing but father's ranch, 
his general store, a butcher shop, and a sawmill. Now 
it was a beautiful city. 

With two friends who had accompanied me from 
Denver I went to a garage, and asked the proprietor 
for an old timer. 

"Give me the oldest one you've got," I said. 

"You can't find one older 'n me," he said. "I've 
been here forty years, unless you count Mrs. Brook- 
field. She's a hundred years old, and has lived here 
most of her life." 

"Drive me right down to her house," I said. 

I knew Mrs. Brookfield well. She had adopted a 
couple of half-Indian kids with whom I had played 
as a boy. When we came to a house, the garage man 
said: 

"There's the old lady sitting on the verandah now." 
I went up the walk and up the steps, and I said : 
"How-do-you-do, Mrs. Brookfield? I'm Frank 
Tarbeaux." 



285 



THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK TARBEAUX 

"How-do-you-do?" the old lady replied. "What 
about it?" 

She had a niece with her, who was about seventy. 
The niece said: 

"My aunt is like this sometimes. Her memory 
isn't working right now, but she'll be all right in a 
minute." 

Old Mrs. Brookfield sat very quiet for maybe sixty 
seconds, and then she said suddenly: 

"Frank, you must be awful old." 

I said I wasn't as young as when she saw me last, 
about sixty years before. 

Then she asked after each of my sisters, Jennie, 
Eva and Mary. I told her they were dead. 

"Where have you been?" she asked then. 

"I've been to Europe," I replied. 

"Take me," she exclaimed. "I'd like to go there." 

And that is the last I ever saw of Boulder, the 
place where I was born. Old Mrs. Brookfield was 
sitting on the porch wishing to be in Europe. 

What is life all about, anyhow?. 



286 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 
Frank Tarbeaux's Memory